Ask 14-year-old Seth Lange what he wants for Christmas and his answer might surprise you.
“He told me he wanted a truck full of toys to take to the hospital so that he could hand them out to kids and put a smile on their face,” said his mother, Stacy Vogt. “It’s not what I expected at all.”
Inspired by her son’s wish, Vogt created a Facebook group titled “Christmas for Kids with Cancer” to spread the word to family and friends. Within 24 hours, the group had garnered interest from more than 2,000 people, all of whom wanted to know where they could send toy donations.
On Monday, Dec. 19, Lange and his mother packed up the donations they had collected and drove to Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital to deliver the toys to children.
For Lange, Cardinal Glennon was a familiar place.
In March 2011, he was diagnosed with leukemia and has undergone months of chemotherapy, blood fusions and other treatment. Now, although he’s experienced several complications, his leukemia is in remission.
“I’ve been in and out of the hospital for about nine months I think, and I’ve been totally bored some days. I think about what I can do to keep myself occupied,” he said. “So I just decided to give kids toys to play with so they’re not really bored (here).”
After hearing his story, Blues players Alex Pietrangelo
and Brian Elliott
decided to join Lange on his gift-giving mission on Monday.
“To be able to see what Seth put together here is really amazing,” Pietrangelo said. “To know what he’s gone through and to take the time and effort to put this together is truly amazing. I’m extremely privileged to be a part of it.
“The best part about it is he’s such a good kid. We’re having a lot of fun with him. He’s mature beyond his years, and to see someone going through what he did and his wish is to give back, it shows what kind of person he actually is.”
Pietrangelo and Elliott arrived early in the afternoon to help Lange sort through all the toys. The three of them set up a path at the hospital that children could walk through and choose any toy they wanted.
“It does more for us to give back than these kids get out of it,” Elliott said. “We try our best to put smiles on faces, and it really puts things into perspective, especially this time of the year.”
Not all children were able to leave their room, so Lange, Elliott and Pietrangelo brought gifts to them.
Maggie Bohannan, 11, was sleeping but woke up before they arrived. She has spent the last two weeks at Cardinal Glennon battling leukemia and is hoping to be released soon. “This is just like Christmas morning,” Bohannan said. “You wake up with a smile on your face and there’s just nothing to be said.”
One could find plenty of inspiration in Lange’s story: his unbelievable generousity, his battle with leukemia and how he’s managed to fend it off, or the fact that at just 14-years-old, he prioritizes others ahead of himself.
But perhaps most importantly, Lange brought joy and happiness to a place that most children would like to forget.
“Not to be biased or anything, but I think he’s pretty special,” Vogt said of her son. “To put a smile on everybody else’s face, but to see his smile is the best thing for me… that’s the best Christmas present that I can get.”
Added Pietrangelo “I feel extremely privileged to be able to be here with Seth and his sister and his mom. To see what he did is beyond amazing, and it's something special that I’ll never forget.”