NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Derek “DJ” Lloyd is sifting through half-a-dozen of boxes filled with toys. But none are for the 9-year-old second grader.
“DJ came to us a couple weeks ago,” said Dustin Knight, DJ’s dad. “He just came out of his room and said he had an idea, a dream he wanted to do.”
He wants every kid on the Oncology/Hematology floor at Children’s Hospital to celebrate Christmas even though they have to be at the hospital.
“Because I think the kids that are sick in the hospital should have a Christmas, too, and not be so sad for being in the hospital over Christmas,” DJ said.
The second-grader knows how it feels to be at the hospital during the holidays. A few days before his sixth birthday, he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
"It was really hard for, I think both of us to process,” said Bridgett Knight, DJ’s mom. “I know I spent a lot of that night when I found out crying."
The family spent several weeks at a time in the hospital, missing a number of holidays.
“When I was in the hospital over the holidays, I didn’t like it,” DJ said. “So, when I got out of the hospital, I thought it wouldn’t be fair to those kids because I know how it feels like to not have a holiday.”
He is now an out-patient. He gets monthly chemotherapy treatment and has to wear a face mask to limit germs he encounters.
“We weren’t exactly sure how we were going to do it, but we knew we wanted to try and help make his dream come true,” said Bridgett.
She first posted on a Facebook group with other Belle Chasse base families who donated toys. Then Dustin made a Facebook fundraiser page. They say within hours they had thousands of dollars donated.
“It was really overwhelming how many people were so excited to help him to make his dream come true,” Bridgett said.
Donations were made online and in person by high school students. Friday, the family was able to get six footballs signed by longtime New Orleans Saints running back Deuce McAllister.
“We’re going to go to the hospital and give it to the sickest kids there are,” DJ said.
As a parent, Bridgett says, she knows the kids will love everything they get but it will also mean more for their parents.
“I think that it’s going to bring a lot of joy not only to the kids but the parents themselves just to see their kids’ world light up for one day being stuck in the hospital,” Bridgett said.