Barrett Fitzsimmons died in 2019 from pediatric cancer at the age of 9 and Aiden Clark, 11, suffered fatal injuries in a school bus accident earlier this year.
“We have already noticed many more houses decorated with Christmas lights as well as houses who have added to their already stunning lights,” said Brad Fitzsimmons, father of Barrett Fitzsimmons. “In addition, this year we reached out to have vendors participate by having sweet treats available for purchase.”
>> Donate a toy and have it shipped
Last year, the Foundation collected more than 500 new toys that were donated to Dayton Children’s Hospital and the Ronald McDonald House. This year, they hope to donate even more.
“This event is a way to help encourage our neighborhood and community to come together to brighten the spirits of people during Christmas and the holiday season,” said Fitzsimmons. “Some of the best times and memories we had as a family were at Christmas. Also, some of the most difficult times we had were at Christmas. The goal of this event is for the community to share our support for both those who are less fortunate and for those who are having a hard time this holiday season.”
Fitzsimmons said the neighborhood and surrounding community was “turned upside down” on August 22 when an elementary school bus collided with a Honda Odyssey that went left of center on State Route 41 (Troy Road). The accident resulted in the school bus toppling over on the side of the road causing injury to more than two dozen students and the death of Clark.
“The first day of school is supposed to be an exciting time filled with joy and celebration,” he said. “However, the first day of elementary school in 2023 brought terror and panic to our neighborhood’s families’ lives that day. But no one felt this tragedy more so than the Clark family.”
Fitzsimmons said because this event is centered around the Westridge neighborhood and community, they felt it was important to include the Clark family and honor their son.
“This Christmas will be difficult for them, and we hope that collecting these toys in memory of Aiden will comfort and ease some of their pain this Christmas,” he said.
Nathan and Danielle Clark, parents of Aiden Clark, said for many families, the holidays bring everyone together for happy times and creating memories.
“This year, we will struggle to find the happiness we’ve had previously, but we know that Aiden will be with us throughout this holiday season,” they said. “Playing with toys was one of his favorite things to do with us, so we know this toy drive will help other families create new memories this season.”
The Clarks said Aiden would love donating, creating smiles, and encouraging lasting memories for all.
“We are honored to be able to do this with the Fitzsimmons Family,” they said. “Please consider donating to this great cause to honor our boys.”
New this year, the Christmas Lights Extravaganza will also feature a free photo opportunity with Santa Claus and refreshments from Sweet Concessions and Kerry’s Café.
Toy donations will be delivered to Dayton Children’s and the Ronald McDonald House on Dec. 19. A donation bin will also be set up from December 11 through December 17 at 3453 Stoney Creek St., Springfield. Donations can also be shipped to this address.
Items for all ages including board games, puzzles, Legos, crafting kits, LED lights, etc. are acceptable. Toys must be new and in original packaging (no gift wrap). Toys without packaging including stuffed animals cannot be accepted.
The Barrett Strong Foundation’s mission is to Knockout Pediatric Cancer. The Foundation continues Barrett’s fight in hopes to see the day when cancer has a cure. The Foundation has provided $70,000 towards pediatric cancer research and aims to hit the $100,000 mark next year.
“We are thankful to everyone who allow us to continue to honor and memorialize the life of Barrett,” said Fitzsimmons. “We are blessed that his short time on this earth impacted so many people.”
Follow the Barrett Strong Foundation on Facebook or at thebarrettstrongfoundation.org for the most recent information.