Toy drive goes into overdrive

Sadie Keller of Lantana is collecting toys for children with cancer.

A local foundation created after a little girl’s diagnosis with leukemia is preparing for its first big Christmas event.

The first annual Breakfast with Santa and Sadie’s Sleigh Toy Drive is set for Saturday, Dec. 2, at Harpool Middle School, 9601 Stacee Lane in Lantana, and will benefit the Sadie Keller Foundation.

Bring the kids to take photos with Santa and give him their Christmas wish lists, while also enjoying a fresh breakfast. There will be crafts for the kids, Kendra Scott trunk show, a Christmas wreath silent auction and artwork by Sadie for donation benefiting the Sadie Keller Foundation.

The foundation asks that you bring a new and unwrapped toy to donate to Sadie’s Sleigh, a toy drive Sadie started two years ago for kids in the hospital on Christmas morning.

Tickets are $5, and the event runs from 8:30 – 11:30 a.m. Click here to purchase tickets and for more information.

“Our Breakfast with Santa event is not only helping families to get to know each other and coming together as a community, but also helping me collect toys for Sadie’s Sleigh and raise money for my foundation while raising awareness for Childhood Cancer,” said Sadie.

In November 2015, Sadie, now 10-and-a-half, was talking to pediatric hematologist-oncologist and leukemia expert Dr. Tamra Slone at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas. Her visit was part of her battle with Pre-B Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia or ALL B Cell, which began in February 2015.

“I was really curious if Santa came to the hospital,” Sadie told The Cross Timbers Gazette last year. “She [Slone] said ‘Yes, he does come. Some of the nurses have seen him before.’ I couldn’t imagine they’d get many toys, because Santa needs to visit the whole world. I wanted to figure out how we could get more toys so the kids could have a better Christmas.”

With only a month left until Christmas 2015, Sadie set a goal of 300 gifts.

She ended up with more than 1,300 gifts from people all over the state, the country, and the world which benefited children on the oncology floor at Children’s. And the gifts weren’t cheap trinkets. They included items like tricycles, doll houses and American Girl dolls and accessories.

With the success of the original drive, Sadie and her mother, Sarah Keller, began planning for the 2016 edition, dubbed Sadie’s Sleigh 2.0. The early start meant expanding the goal to 3,000 gifts and adding the oncology patients at Fort Worth’s Cook Children’s Hospital. She collected more than 5,000 gifts last year. This year, the bar is set even higher with a goal of 10,000 toys.

The growth of Sadie’s Sleigh launched the non-profit Sadie Keller Foundation.

According to the foundation, Sadie has fought through many infections, blood transfusions, very rare side effects, received weekly chemotherapy and was out of school for her second and third grade years. She received her last chemotherapy on May 26, 2017.

Sadie is an advocate for childhood cancer awareness and does lots of work with a Childhood Cancer Awareness organization called TheTruth365, according to the foundation. Sadie has also spoken and lobbied in Washington D.C. to members of Congress multiple times, including helping pass the RACE for Children Act.

“I am SO excited to provide a wonderful Christmas event for families while raising money and awareness for something that’s so important to me,” said Saide. “I really hope everyone comes and enjoys this special event!”

Mark Smith
Mark Smith
Mark Smith is the Digital Editor of The Cross Timbers Gazette.

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