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A little extra joy: Northland family keeps holiday tradition going despite hardships

Published: Dec. 10, 2021 at 4:50 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 10, 2021 at 10:48 PM CST
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ASHLAND, WI. (CBS3 Duluth) - The Galligan family is putting on ‘Johnny’s Hospital Toy Drive’ for the 9th year in a row this.

The annual drive helps distribute toys to kids in hospitals during the holiday season.

Johnny Galligan was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis when he was just 7 days old, leaving him with a lasting brain injury.

“We have had lots of hospital stays and most of them are in the winter around the holidays,” said Alina Galligan, Johnny’s mother.

A few weeks ago, Johnny was hospitalized with respiratory issues stemming from rhinovirus, RSV, and COVID-19.

According to his mom, RSV hit him the hardest, and he was intubated just after Thanksgiving.

After a tough battle, he was finally extubated on Wednesday.

“It’s been a rough ride, there were many unknowns if we would bring him home to stay, but right now he’s stable,” said Galligan.

Galligan has been by her son’s side through the whole hospitalization process, even sleeping at the hospital to make sure he’s not alone.

She said this difficult time has made it hard for them to put work into their annual toy drive.

“He’s been my main focus; his health is my main focus. And unfortunately the Toy drive has fallen a bit behind,” she said.

Galligan said they don’t want their own tough situation to get in the way of other families receiving toys.

“We’ve extended it into January because of that to try to make up,” she said.

Jena Benoit a Child Life Specialist with Essentia Health says the hard work they put into the toy drive makes a huge difference for families all over the Northland.

“When we’re able to bring a little extra joy to that experience and make it a little bit more like home by providing these toys, that’s certainly something that we love to be able to provide,” said Benoit.

The Galligan family said they’re grateful for the support and care he has received from hospital staff during his recent stay.

“They treat these kids like they are their own kids and it’s a huge difference, it really is they’re amazing,” said Alina.

You can donate to the toy drive by dropping off toys at one of the several drop off sites in Ashland.

You can also reach out to the toy drive’s Facebook page to organize a pick up.

Monetary donations are also accepted.

You can find more information on Johnny’s Hospital Toy Drive Facebook page.

https://www.facebook.com/johnnyshospital.toydrive.3

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