DUARTE, Calif. (KABC) -- Being in the hospital during the holidays can be especially tough for young patients. Donations of toys and gifts from our generous viewers through our Spark of Love campaign helped bring them some joy and hope.
Visitors bearing presents were a welcome surprise for cancer patient Ryan Bora of Mission Viejo.
"It's cool. They have Santa and all this stuff coming around. So it's been great," said Bora, who is recovering from surgery.
On this day, Santa is Captain Sheila Kelliher and her L.A. County Fire Department volunteers are elves. Thanks to the Spark of Love toy drive, they handed out cartloads of cheer.
"A lot of our patients come from afar, and so they're away from their families," said Child Life Specialist Marissa Verdin-Mejia. Her job is to help educate and support patients going through complicated procedures and long hospital stays.
"It's not just focusing on the medical diagnosis per se, but we look at the whole patient and the whole family," she said.
Some of these kids have spent several holiday seasons at the City of Hope Children's Cancer Center. Toys and gift cards are nice, but every spark of love, spark of joy and spark of conversation ignites good healing feelings.
"Seeing them fight for their life and to be able to do what they need to do on their end, we can only be there guiding them and supporting them," Verdin-Mejia said.
Talking about sports, laughing and joking - the distraction eases stress and helps keep Bora's spirits high for his continued fight ahead. "You know, everything's going good. My treatments are good."
He's grateful to everyone out there pulling for him.