Kids & Family

10 Year Old Leukemia Patient Uses Her Birthday to Sock it to Cancer

Addison Tolley, who is battling cancer, collected thousands of socks to give to her fellow patients.


For her 10th birthday, Addison Tolley was far more focused on giving gifts than receiving them.

She had set her sights high - her mission was to collect 500 pairs of socks to distribute to children who were hospitalized in order to bring them some comfort and warmth. By the time her Sock it to Cancer drive was over, she had collected over 3,500 pairs. Boxes and boxes of sockses (sorry, socks) were delivered to children's hospitals around Addison's home state of Ohio, including hospitals in Akron, Cleveland, and Cincinnati .

Addison knows firsthand how much gifts like this mean to these children. Earlier this year, Addison was diagnosed with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia .

"It's the most heartbreaking situation that any parent or adult could witness"

Addison had just torn a ligament in her knee playing soccer, so when she started acting lethargic, her mother chalked it up to the injury. When she passed out walking to the bathroom they knew it was something more serious. "She just kind of collapsed in my arms," said Bethany Tolley. That's when we knew this wasn't her knee, this isn't a growth spurt, something's wrong." Initially, Addison was diagnosed with anemia. She was expected to be hospitalized for 5 days.

She was there for 76.

"As a parent you don't want to think that she's acting the way she's acting because of cancer," said Bethany. Determined to make the most of her situation, Addison began giving gifts to her fellow patients, starting with a sticker book she'd received a duplicate of. Realizing that sticker books might have a slightly narrow appeal, Addison and her mother brainstormed gifts ideas that other kids in the hospital might enjoy, such as nail polish and blankets. The eureka moment came when they decided on socks and slippers.

Thousands of colorful, fuzzy socks are prepared for delivery to hospitalized children

Addison was released from the hospital in September and wanted to get her sock drive organized in time for her birthday, December 22. By the time Sock it to Cancer ended, they had raised 7 times the amount of socks that they had originally asked for. "We had socks come from all over the U.S." said Bethany. "I really genuinely say it was such a blessing to see so many people get behind what Addison's message was."

Fuzzy socks with a personal message from Addison to her fellow patients

And the spirit of giving doesn't stop there. Addison already has her sights set on a new goal: she wants to raise $300 to send one young cancer patient to Camp Ed Bear , a summer camp designed to help oncology and hematology patients " just, feel like kids and have pure, relaxing fun." This time, however, Addison's going to handle it on her own, raising the money herself through events like a lemonade stand.

That being said, if any Sparkt readers near Massillon, OH are feeling particularly thirsty this summer, keep your eyes peeled.

You can also donate directly to Camp Ed Bear through the Project Ed Bear site, here .

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