EASTON, Kan. -- September is National Children's Cancer Awareness Month.
The occasion hits close to home for some. One young survivor from the metro knows the pain cancer patients endure, and now, he's comforting other sick kids.
Leavenworth County’s Donald Helton knows exactly how pediatric cancer patients feel. The Pleasant Ridge High School student used to be one, after all. Now, Helton, 14, is in remission, having beaten leukemia. The Leavenworth County native has been collecting plastic building blocks to donate to patients at Children's Mercy Hospital.
“I just liked seeing them happy,” Helton explained.
The misery of pediatric cancer isn't something Helton would wish on anyone. He spent the bulk of two months at Children’s Mercy Hospital, having intensive cancer treatments. Each time he'd spend time in the hospital's cancer center, he'd see the effects simple blocks, like Legos and Duplos, would have on kids.
“When I would go to the playroom, I would see when they were playing with Legos. They'd use their imagination and have fun. I wanted to do that -- get Legos for them,” Helton said.
A sense of gratitude has pushed Donald to collect boxes of interlocking blocks. He explained the importance Legos play in keeping a young patient’s mind occupied while undergoing treatments.
“Just the stress and worried about what's going to happen next. I just know how they feel,” Helton said.
As part of the hospital's Build Your Journey program, Helton is collecting his second load of Legos. The first one contained over 500 boxes, all of which were delivered to managers at the hospital’s cancer center.
“It warms my heart knowing that, even though, some people might be like, 'I'm done. I'm never going back there again.' He knows what they've been through. He wants to help kids get through it easier,” Laura Helton, Donald’s mother, told FOX 4 News.
“It feels good just to see that I'm helping their days out and making their day less stressful,” Donald Helton said.
Helton says he's received dozens of donations, some of which come from people he doesn't even know. You can contact the Helton family via Team Super Donald Facebook page.
Two years ago, the Helton family staged a similar project. They operated a free carnival for children with special needs in Atchison, donations from which helped raise $4,000 for pediatric cancer research.