Kansas City, Mo. — Freedom has extra meaning this year for 7-year-old Tripp Hughes, who celebrated his final chemotherapy treatment on July 4.
After battling lymphoma for the past two and a half years, he rang his bell surrounded by loved ones and a surprise visit from local first responders.
“It was just great that everyone supported me in every way possible,” said Tripp Hughes. “It just makes me feel great because everything I’ve been through has been a roller coaster.”
His mother, Krista Hughes, remembers her son’s diagnosis. The family had tried to determine the cause of a lump in his throat and a lump on his head.
She was six months pregnant with Tripp’s younger brother when they got the news.
“We knew exactly what to do, and there was no time to be sad, angry or upset,” said Krista Hughes. “He was our motivation.”
All eyes were on Tripp Hughes this weekend. Praise and gifts poured in for this young superhero with visitors from far and wide. But he said all these toys are not for him.
“We knew people wanted to bring presents, it was his birthday,” said Krista Hughes. “He had decided he didn’t need any gifts.”
Instead, Tripp Hughes came up with the idea of organizing a toy campaign for Children’s Mercy Hospital.
He says it’s his way of saying “thank you” to the staff who have now become more like family.
“When you’re here that long, they kind of become like your extended family, so it’s really great to see,” said Gregg Rosenboom, in-kind gifts coordinator.
He says these donations could mean the world to a patient and their family on their worst days.
“I joked with my mom that he might be a future philanthropist and might have a job here at the hospital,” Rosenboom said. “It’s a huge help. I stress to our donors all the time that they don’t know the full impact their donations will make.”
And that impact creates a ripple effect of kindness, drawing the attention of Bryan Andrews on TikTok.
The singer/songwriter gave a benefit concert in honor of Tripp Hughes.
“It’s all on Tripp. I mean, he’s the one who started it all, you know?’ said Andrew. “I can’t believe a 7-year-old has such a big heart, you know, but it was great to be a part of it.”
Tripp Hughes and his mom have raised nearly $6,000 and 2,500 items for his toy campaign to date.
“People have supported me, so other people should be supporting other people,” Tripp Hughes said. “Thank you to everyone who has donated. You are very nice and just very helpful.”
The family plans to drop off the toy donations at Children’s Mercy in the coming weeks.