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Wes' Wish Toy Drive prepares for 12th year, honoring Hampton Roads cancer patient

The number of donated presents have grown so high, entire families can complete their holiday shopping thanks to the efforts by The Wes Strong Foundation.

YORKTOWN, Va. — The reminders are still scattered across Krista Pak’s Yorktown home. Reminders of her son, Wes, whom Krista still thinks of every day.

“He was always thinking, 'Well it could be worse.' He always had a smile on his face and you couldn’t really tell the struggles he was dealing with," she said.

In 2011, doctors diagnosed the then 5-year-old Wes with stage four neuroblastoma, and his years-long battle with cancer ended in 2018.

"It was still hard for him to wrap his head around the idea where, 'I feel fine, why do I have to feel sick again from treatment?'" Krista said.

But years before Wes passed, he went to his parents with a wish.

“Wes wanted to give all his toys to his friends at clinic going through cancer and treatment together," she said. 

At the age of 5, Wes began a holiday toy collection effort that started out with only five red wagons, and over time grew to a more collaborative effort with businesses across the Hampton Roads region.

“Sparked an idea that we should collect toys and call it Wes’ Wish because that’s what he wanted to do,” Krista said.

Even after Wes' passing, Krista said it was never an option to discontinue the toy drive. Now, she prepares for the 12th annual, which she said roughly 30 businesses across the area have already participated in as drop-off locations.

It's grown to the point where entire families-- not just individual cancer patients-- can receive gifts around the holidays. 

“It's grown in the number of businesses. Last year, we had more than 60 drop-off locations," Krista said.

Wes' Wish Toy Drive runs through the entire month of November, reminding Krista that her son is still with her in more ways than just memory. 

“No matter what I'm doing or going through, I feel like he’s still there telling me, 'You got this mom,'" she said.

Businesses interested in participating as a drop-off location can contact the Wes Strong Foundation by clicking here.

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