INDIANAPOLIS — August 28, 2015 is Charlotte Grace Reuzenaar’s birthday.
“I called her sassy pants while she was with us because she was a little fighter, so she had some sass,” Charlotte’s mom, Tiffany Reuzenaar, said.
Charlotte was born with Triploidy syndrome, meaning she had a third complete set of chromosomes. She lived for nine days and was cared for at Riley Hospital for Children.
“[The doctor said] he’s never seen [a baby with Triploidy] make it to term, let alone nine days. So she was quite the little miracle,” Reuzenaar said.
In 2016, Tiffany and her husband Justin wanted to find a way to celebrate Charlotte’s birthday and honor their daughter. They started an annual toy drive benefiting the Riley Cheer Guild. The nonprofit works to provide comfort and cheer to patients at Riley Hospital for Children through a variety of programs, including a Toy Room.
“I’ve always kind of said that since [Charlotte’s] not here for us to spoil, that that was kind of the next best thing to be able to give to the kiddos that are at Riley,” Reuzenaar said. “It’s meant a lot to me to be able to do that for her birthday to honor her.”
This year was the seventh Birthday Toy Drive for Riley organized by the Brownsburg family, which also includes 5-year-old sister Harper. With the help of donations from family, friends and the community, 1,052 items and a $500 monetary donation went to the Riley Cheer Guild.
The items filled the Reuzenaar’s living room, and Tiffany says she had to stand on a ladder to be able to take these photos. The donation filled Tiffany and Justin’s vehicles.
“[Seeing it all] can be overwhelming. It’s just a reminder of all the support that Justin and I have and Harper, and just, you know, absolute gratitude for everything that everyone gives,” Reuzenaar said. “It’s just knowing that you’re bringing a small bit of joy to those kids that are in the hospital.”
Harper is able to help her parents shop for items for the toy drive.
“She loves it. She had to learn how to share in a bit of an unconventional way … in fact when we did our first round of clearance shopping, oh my gosh she loved packing everything,” Reuzenaar said.
The family plans to continue doing the toy drive every year. You can connect with them through their Facebook page.
The Riley Cheer Guild is always accepting donations, but there are certain guidelines and donation deliveries must be scheduled in advance. For more information on donating, click here.