PLATTSBURGH - When Gracelyn C. Murphy lost her courageous battle with metastatic breast cancer four years ago, little did she know she'd leave behind a gift that would help bring smiles to the faces of many children.
Murphy's collection of hundreds of Ty Beanie Babies, which she had been assembling for several years until she passed away in October 2006, was given to CVPH Medical Center last year. The posthumous donation was one that was ultimately decided would help ease the nerves of children in the hospital's Alice T. Miner Center for Women and Children.
Children who visit the pediatrics unit, explained director Maria Hayes, are sometimes nervous, and having a friend as small as a Beanie Baby can make a world of difference.
"When a child comes into a hospital, they can be so scared," said Hayes. "There are so many people who are strangers to them. They can get stuck with needles. So, any type of normalcy we can introduce to make them feel better is great."
The trove of small, stuffed animals, hasn't run out even several months after the donation was given to the hospital, said Hayes. That means a lot to Murphy's daughter, Cam Brown of Ticonderoga.
"When my mother passed away four years ago, she had these large Rubbermaid totes, filled with Beanie Babies," recalled Brown. "She was always buying Beanie Babies. I remember when my niece was little, she would spend summers with my mom and they'd just go shopping for Beanie Babies."
"When they would come visit me in Ticonderoga, they would need to go to Chestertown because there might be Beanie Babies there that they wouldn't have in Plattsburgh," she added.
Knowing the dedication and heart her mother put into the collection and how the collection today continues to help children is something that means the world to Brown.
"My mother was a bus driver. She loved kids. She had three of her own and four grandchildren," said Brown. "We were her world. I know that she would be really excited about the fact her Beanie Babies are being used to touch the lives of children."
The Beanie Babies also serve a special function in the hospital's nursery, where smaller babies can be positioned in their hospital carts using the tiny stuffed animals as pillows, said Hayes.
"They're the only product that can go through the sterilization process," said Hayes, who once worked in a tertiary facility with a 46-bed neonatal intensive care unit, where Beanie Babies were used on a regular basis, on a larger scale. "So, a donation of Beanie Babies is phenomenal. And, any donation we get that can put a smile on a child's face, especially a sick child, means the world."
"It means a lot to see that whether it's through us children, her grandchildren, or the things that she has done, like this, that she can impact lives, even though she's not here anymore," Brown said of her mother. "It's the legacy she left."