For his birthday, Quinlyn gives to hospitalized kids

For many 7-year-olds, the idea of forgoing birthday presents from your friends might bring on dread and even tears. Not so for Quinlyn Ryan. Recognizing the needs of others in his community and recalling his own health challenges as an infant and toddler (as explained to him by his parents), Quinlyn recently made a pretty grown-up decision.  When inviting his friends to his birthday party, he asked them to bring a gift for pediatric patients at Fairview Lakes Medical Center, near his home in Stacy, Minn.

Inspired to be active in his community

He was inspired by his civic-minded family (his mom, Jessica, works in the nonprofit sector and his dad, Andy, is a firefighter) and his first-grade teacher at Wyoming Elementary, whose curriculum included lessons focused on citizenship and being an active member of the broader community.

“We were talking with Quinlyn about his birthday—how we should celebrate and what presents he would like,” says Jessica.

“We explored the idea that there’s really nothing he needed and that we are very fortunate. As we brainstormed a few ideas, Quinlyn decided he would love to have his friends buy toys for local children who were sick, instead of buying toys for him.”

After discussing different opportunities to donate toys, Quinlyn landed on Fairview Lakes, his local hospital.

“He thought that was a great idea,” says Jessica. “He really relates with kids his age who are in the hospital. What better way to cheer them up?”

A donation personal to him

Quinlyn was hospitalized several times during the first year-and-a-half of his life with respiratory issues.

“In some of his baby pictures, he is wearing a mask because we needed to nebulize him. It made the gift-giving even more personal for him,” she says.

“We had his birthday party at a bounce house gym. The woman who was the coordinator saw the presents and assumed they were for Quinlyn. It was such an awesome moment. She said, ‘OK Quinlyn, here are your presents to open.’ He looked at her and said, ‘These aren’t presents for me; these are presents for sick kids in my community,’” says Jessica.

Making a difference

In the spirit of giving, Quinlyn’s family also added to the donations. And, rather than just drop off the presents at Fairview Lakes, Jessica scheduled a hospital tour for their family so Quinlyn could see firsthand the care provided and how the toys would make a difference in patients’ lives.“It was the most amazing experience,” she says. “The staff wanted to hear Quinlyn’s story directly from him. Even some of the doctors said, ‘Oh, we heard about you and that you’re donating gifts for kids. That’s great.’ During that hour, I think Quinlyn felt like he was a celebrity.”

Related Articles