9 Yr. Old Asks For Unusual Birthday Gift

Addison Kapustiak has had a harder childhood than most. When she was just a baby, she was diagnosed with a rare genetic disease, Tumor Necrosis Factor Receptor Associated Periodic Syndrome or “TRAPS”. She has been in and out of hospitals her whole life, including three brain surgeries before the age of 2. She can experience pain in her chest, muscles, and stomach, fevers and swollen eyes, and painful rashes.

Any one of these symptoms would be enough to make us cranky and unfriendly, but that’s not how Addison chooses to behave. Though she has to visit Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in Florida every two weeks for a dose of steroids and anti-inflammatory medicines, she smiles through it all, and at the end of every treatment she gets to pick out a new toy from the hospital’s toy closet. It’s a ritual that makes all of the children happy, but one day Addison noticed that the closet was running low on cool toys. She said there were “just Happy Meal toys and stuff. Like, baby toys and stuff that I don’t like.”

So she decided to do something about it, in true selfless fashion. She said that she couldn’t bear the thought of children being disappointed when they opened the closet, so instead of asking for presents for her 9th birthday, Addison requested that people donate to the toys closet! Her selfless act garnered a lot of attention, and she eventually started a charity called Sending Smiles that makes sure the toy closet at her hospital is always stocked! This year, the little girl was recognized as a Lightning Community Hero of Tomorrow, a designation that comes with a $50,000 donation! Half goes towards her college fund and half goes towards the hospital, a gift that Addison appreciates very much! She deserves it – to have such empathy during so much pain is an incredible accomplishment!