PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — When children are admitted to CHOP, a whole team of people helps them stay occupied. They’re called child life specialists. They provide toys and game time, a welcome distraction from fear, pain and boredom.
Now two former patients are saying thanks with toys. These two girls didn’t meet until this summer, but they share the same story and the same drive to help.
Ten-year-old Bronwyn Hansen and 12-year-old Sophia Giamo of Montgomery County know what it’s like to be a kid stuck in the hospital.
In 2014, Sophia developed serious complications from the flu. “I had to get surgery and they had to put a tube through my back into the lung,” Sophia said.
Colleen Giamo, Sophia’s mother, said, “She was terrified, and she was in a lot of pain.”
A year later, Bronwyn had brain surgery to repair a malformation in her blood vessels.
“It was tiring and painful because I couldn’t lift my head,” Bronwyn said. “I didn’t want to watch TV. Ever.”
The girls didn’t know each other, but their moms, Colleen Giamo and Cory Shay, went to the same high school and reconnected through the magic of social media.
“Sophia had gotten sick, was in the hospital…” Cory said.
“Cory reached out and was amazing,” Colleen said.
“Then when Bronwyn was sick, Colleen was amazing,” Cory said. “Sent a cleaning lady to my house, and she’s such a wonderful person!”
Sophia and Bronwyn are now friends, and they’re collecting toys for kids in the hospital. They call it CHOP DROP. Friends and local businesses have donated hundreds of toys. An Amazon wish list of 100 toys sold out.
“Then I put out more stuff, and we just keep getting more, as far away as Seattle…” Cory said.
“Alabama…” Colleen said.
“Maine…” Cory said.
It’s a family affair. Their sisters are helping too.
“We’re hoping that these toys can make kids have a little bit more fun than just laying around feeling like the can’t do anything,” Bronwyn said.
“It is like Christmas, but not for themselves,” Colleen said. “They’re so excited to be able to come to CHOP and bring these gifts to them, because they know what it’s going to do.”
You can contribute to Bronwyn and Sophia’s CHOP DROP at a variety of locations or at their home base in Blue Bell before August 31. You can reach them through their Facebook page: