What happened to Kristine Coffey’s three-year-old-daughter never should have happened.
She passed away from cancer.
But before passing, doctors gave her a gift, keeping her daughter’s memory alive to this day.
“So, right now before Black Friday, it is very stressful because I don’t have any toys yet,” said Kristine Coffey, mother of Kali Coffey.
These toys aren’t for Kristine or her kids — instead, they’re for children spending time at local hospitals in Bismarck.
“If we can bring a smile or happiness to a family member or anybody in the hospital with a simple small toy or act of kindness, then that’s what we want,” said Kristine.
In 2014, Kristine started the Kali Grace & Minnie Mouse Toy Drive in memory of her 3-year-old daughter, Kali, who lost her fight against cancer. While Kali was in the hospital doctors gave her a toy Minnie Mouse, which would wind up being her constant companion.
“They put a port in Minnie and sewed her up and showed her that Minnie is just like you. It took away reality for a few minutes an hour. It just felt great to not worry about that. She was happy she wasn’t focused on being sick,” said Kristine.
Between Bismarck and Minneapolis, Kali went through several surgeries. But it was here at CHI St. Alexius Health Bismarck Medical Center, a doctor determined that Kali had a tumor that was taking up 40% of her brain. That’s equivalent to the size of an apple.
Kali wasn’t fighting alone, the tumor took its toll on her entire family.
“We had Kali’s younger sister and kept an eye on her. She lived with us basically, we got to do her immunization, teething and some potty training,” said Kelly Kepp, grandmother of Kali Coffey.
“She fought for about 15 solid months from tumors in her brain that went into her spine. On May 4th at 5:43 p.m. in 2014, she passed away right here in the living room. So, ever since then we have to keep her memory alive,” said Kristine.
But even after her passing, Kali’s constant companion didn’t leave her side, as she was buried with Minnie proving no matter how big or small a gift may be, it can provide happiness for a lifetime and beyond.
Last year the family donated 500 toys to kids at Bismarck hospitals. They are accepting new unwrapped toys for kids from Zero up to 18 years old and also monetary donations.
To find out where you can drop off donations, click here