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Pediatric patients, some in wheelchairs and some standing with IV poles, stood at the entrance of USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital on Friday as a parade of race cars, antique police cruisers and even some souped up go karts hummed past with boxes of toys in tow.
When the roar of the engines grew quiet, patients, doctors, nurses and staff mingled among the vehicles to talk and take photos. Santa Claus and Ronald McDonald emerged just in time to help hand out toys provided by Kane’s Motorsports and other businesses from as far away as Enterprise, Alabama. A few local Cub Scouts and other community groups also delivered dozens of new toys to the hospital Friday morning.
The toy drop was the idea of Derek “Kane” Long, owner of Kane Motorsports. For several years, he has been collecting toys and encouraging Gulf Coast residents to join him in bringing gifts to the hospital twice a year, once in the spring and once in mid-December.
As patients gathered in the courtyard Friday afternoon, Long moved from family to family, encouraging the children and their caregivers to go and pick out toys from a large collection stacked nearby. “You can get whatever you want,” he told one little boy, shaking his head and smiling.
A few minutes later, Long led a rendition of Happy Birthday as a young patient in a red wagon grinned up at the crowd. For weeks before the event, Long took to social media to promote the toy drop and ask for donations. On Facebook Thursday, he posted a video in preparation for the parade and toy drop: “It’s amazing to see how many toys and trophies we have."
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