EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 15, 2013

Methuen boy hosts toy drive for sick kids

By Sara Brown

---- — METHUEN — When 9-year-old Wesley Gangi found out his mother’s friend, Hallie, was donating a kidney he was inspired to do something to change someone’s life.

“He wrote to her on Facebook telling her she was a hero. She challenged him in someway do something that will help someone else,” Wesley’s mother Amy Gangi said.

After thinking about it for sometime, he came up with the idea of a toy drive for children at the Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical. Wesley’s Wishes Toy Drive will occur on Nov., 2 at the Loop in front of AMC Theater from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“Kids get bored being in the hospital all the time,” Wesley said.

Wesley would know. From the time he was born, he has been in and out of the hospital with a slew of medical issues.

Wesley is one of triplets. His brothers have been healthy but he hasn’t had the same luck. He was born at only 28 weeks and was just two pounds when he was born. He has spent a year and half of his life in the hospital. He has had over 35 surgeries. He has a clotting disorder and a weak immune system. He is in kidney failure and at some point in his life will need a kidney transplant.

“He has had to fight for his life since day one,” his mother said.

Wesley admits it has been a tough spending so much time in the hospital.

“It’s extremely difficult,” he said. “I miss (my) brothers, Austin and Rylan, a lot when I am in there.”

Another challenging aspect of hospital life is how to occupy time.

“I get bored a lot,” he said. “They come in with used coloring books and I am like ‘Mom, what the heck is this?’”

He is hoping that people will donate journals, bracelet kits and other arts and crafts so that sick children have more ways to occupy their time.

“It be cool if we actually have stuff to do,” he said.

His mother couldn’t be prouder.

“I don’t know many 9-year-olds who think of this. Normally, kids his age are preoccupied with playing, which is normal,” she said.

She said she has tried to teach her sons the value of giving back.

“I am happy to know he was listening,” she said.

It has been difficult at times for her to see her son so ill.

“I never leave his side when he is in the hospital. I feel guilty because I have two other sons I need to take care of and spend time with. The one time I did leave, they called a code blue on him and had to bring him back to life.”

“It’s been a long road. It’s been a rough nine years,” she added. “However, it’s been a blessing too. I wouldn’t trade him for anything in the world.”

She believes there is a special reason why her son is still alive.

“They told me from day one, he wouldn’t make it. He’s still here. There has to be a reason for that. I think we are now just beginning to see that,” she said.

Wesley is hoping to make the toy drive an annual event.

“I would love that. I want hundreds of people to show up,” he said smiling with his two front teeth missing. “I will welcome everyone and thank them for coming.”

The event is being sponsored by Orange Leaf.

His mother has a nickname for her charismatic son.

‘I call him ‘the mayor’ because he will always go up to people and shake their hand. He has no shyness about him whatsoever. He will talk to anybody,” she said. “He truly has a generous heart.”

The Marsh Grammar School student has aspirations to become a doctor when he grows up.

“I want to help sick kids like me,” he said.

For more information visit Facebook.com/events/519942674758054/

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