Team Blake gives gifts of toys to keep hero's memory alive

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Blake Cazier spent half of his two years of life in the hospital.

"When we weren't in the hospital, we were going to clinic," his mother, Jaclyn said. "People would donate toys to the clinic and they would give them to us and just to see Blake's smile for that few minutes and keep busy for the hours that we were going to be there meant the world to us."

Blake's battle with leukemia ended in March. When his family considered the best way to honor his first Christmas in heaven, toys seemed the perfect answer.

"I could go through different crates(in the hospital toy room) and pull out a different toy and I've got a memory of Blake playing with that toy," Blake's father Chris said.

The Caziers launched a toy drive through their Team Blake Facebook page. The response was overwhelming.

"We had nurses from Maryland send gifts," Jaclyn said. "We had people from Oklahoma, people from Manhattan."

Chris said delivery trucks pulled up to the house every day.

"It was bigger than we ever thought it could be," he said.

Jaclyn said it was amazing to see people continue to follow and remember Blake.

"A lot of toys were Thomas the Train, and cows, and Blake loved his little binkies with the animals on it, so people were very thoughtful whenever they donated the toys, which was....brought a lot of happy tears," she said.

It's happiness they're sharing with children at the two hospitals where they spent so much time with Blake, Children's Mercy in Kansas City and Stormont Vail in Topeka.

Ben Broxterman, child life specialist at Stormont, says it's nice to see the families' come full circle as they give back for the care they were given. Plus, they see the gifts mean more to the children than many will ever know.

"We just visited a kid who was pretty tearful and kinda down about what was going on and as soon as we walked in the room, he lit up. He was just so excited," Broxterman said. "For that little bit of time, he was just a normal kid hanging out in a room with a bunch of people who were doing something nice for him. He wasn't the sick kid, laying in the bed - and I think that's really a neat thing to see."

Jaclyn said the visits are very special.

"It warms my heart to see a kid smile even for a few minutes because most of the time, the kids are being picked at, prodded at and they don't understand what's going on in the hospital. They don't know why they can't leave," she said.

But inspired by Blake, they're making things a little easier for other families.

"I knew Blake was a special kid. I knew that he had a special purpose on earth here - and he's got a special purpose in heaven as well," Chris said. "It's changed a lot of people's lives."

T-shirts, etc, and April Kelsey with Farm Bureau Financial assisted with the toy drive.