LAKELAND, Fla. — The holidays are a special time, but some children have to spend them in the hospital.

Liz Haygood knows what it’s like having a child hospitalized. Her daughter’s first birthday was spent in the hospital.

“We were actually planning for her first birthday party, and she began to have seizures. So, we were transported to Nemours,” said Liz Haygood, founder of Kate’s Story Foundation. “It was a day that we planned to spend celebrating her first year of life with family and friends, and all of a sudden, we were confined to a hospital room.”

Her daughter Kate lives with a form of epilepsy. She is the inspiration behind Kate’s Story Foundation. Every year the non-profit holds a toy drive for children that are in the hospital during the holidays.

“When your child is struggling or has some type of medical condition, it’s very sad to see them like that,” Liz said. “To see the toys that are brought in and the smiles on their face and the joy that comes with a gift makes them feel so special and brings them back to their happy place.”

There are a dozen businesses in Lakeland that are helping collect toys, including Lifefit Personal Training Studio.

“We’re a big family here, and what affects me affects them. We’ve filled this box up probably three or four times, which is probably several hundred toys,” said Jason Noel, owner of Lifefit Personal Training Studio.

Donations of new unwrapped toys are being accepted through Dec. 16. They will be gifted to children at Lakeland Regional Health and Nemours Children’s Health on Christmas week.

“We hope that the toys and gifts that are given to them bring them joy and let them know how loved they are,” Liz said.


Source:,  Rebecca Petit