Ethan's Toy Drive provides holiday gifts for patients

Ethan's Toy Drive volunteers delivered gifts to young patients and their family members at St. Mary's Hospital in Rochester. In front, from left, is Doug Gjerstead, Karen Gjerstead, Amy Jirik, Morgan Gjerstead, Ashley Scheffert, Deb Skluzacek, Megan Scheffert, Dory Elston, Dr. Johnson, and Zach Mensink. In back, from left, is Andrew Skluzacek, Jeremy Scheffert, Ted Jirik, Mike Scheffert, and Brandon Turgeon.

Sunday's sub-zero temperatures and frigid wind chills were no match for the warm smiles and generous hearts of those trying to bring a little holiday cheer to young patients and their families at St. Mary's Hospital in Rochester. Family members and friends of Ethan Scheffert honored his memory by delivering 465 donated toys, gifts, and gift cards collected through the Second Annual Ethan's Toy Drive.
After losing their son, Ethan, on January 12, 2015 at the age of 15 months, Jeremy and Ashley Scheffert of Lonsdale decided that the toy drive would be an ideal way to remember their son. They would try to make a difference by bringing a little joy to young patients and their family members, who have to spend their holidays in the hospital. After all, the Schefferts knew exactly what that was like; they had first-hand experience. 
Ethan only had two Christmas holidays, and both were spent in the hospital. Being born at 29 weeks with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, Ethan was in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for four months, including his first Christmas. His second, the Christmas of 2014, he was battling complications from a heart transplant.  
Ashley's mom, Deb Skluzacek of Montgomery, noted that Dr. Johnson of St. Mary's Hospital, who was Ethan's heart specialist, arranged their visit to the hospital and worked with them on delivering the toys to the patients. 
"We began our gift deliveries in the heart unit, the cardio vascular intensive care unit (CVICU), said Skluzacek. "There, Dr. Johnson told them about a 13 year-old girl who was awaiting a heart transplant. She had just been moved to A1, top of the list." According to Skluzacek, this patient received a special gift.
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