LIMA — Ten years after his death, Toni King has kept the memory of her son alive with an annual fundraiser in his honor. This year, the King family used a portion of funds from the event to purchase toys, games and crafts for children who are staying at Lima Memorial Health System and St. Rita’s Medical Center.
On Wednesday, several members of the King family stopped into both hospitals with boxes of gifts that were distributed to the medical center’s pediatrics units. In all, the Kings donated nine boxes to each hospital, which equated to some $3,200 worth of toys.
The donations were made in honor of Dan King, who was killed almost a decade ago. Since then, King’s family and friends have held a poker run to raise money for a variety of charities and other organizations throughout the Lima area. Melissa Johnson, King’s sister, estimated that they’ve donated close to $140,000 in the last 10 years.
“Dan was always a very giving person and he helped anybody who needed it, so this is just a way for us to give back to the community in his honor,” Johnson said. “It’s nice to be able to share the love, especially with kids who just need a little pick-me-up or a little encouragement during their stay at the local hospitals.”
Johnson added that she always enjoys seeing people benefit from the generosity of those who helped raised money at the poker run, especially when the beneficiaries are children.
“It’s always hard because we know the reason why we’re doing this, but at the same time, seeing other people benefit from what we’re trying to do makes it worth our time and effort,” she said.
Michelle Pester, a clinical manager at Lima Memorial’s pediatrics department, said the donation was a “wonderful thing” for the hospital and the children they serve.
“These kids are going to be so happy,” Pester said. “Now that we’ve redone our playroom, they’ve been able to come down and play. Now we’re going to have all these wonderful toys, so they’ll be able to have fun and forget about why they’re here.”
Jenna Nolte, pediatric department clinical shift supervisor at St. Rita’s, said they also appreciated the generosity of the King family.
“All of the toys, books and art supplies are going to be used and loved by every child who stays on this floor,” Nolte said. “We couldn’t be more thankful to this family and this community for helping to make a child’s stay here comfortable and enjoyable.”
For Johnson, the annual donations to charitable organizations are a way to keep the memory of her brother alive.
“This is a way we can turn something very tragic into something that is positive,” she said. “That’s what we’re trying to do — instill something positive into this community and beyond.”
Reach John Bush at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @Bush_Lima.