La Jollans give children with life-threatening illnesses a reason to smile

La Jollans Bill Bennett (left) and Jim Broutzos delivered toys to Rady Children’s Hospital on Sunday, June 24. Photos by Pat Sherman

To contribute:
■ Contact Jim Broutzos at (619) 997-9059

By Pat Sherman

For the past six months La Jolla building contractor Jim Broutzos has been playing the role of “papa” — a term of endearment given him by a volunteer at Rady Children’s Hospital, to whom he delivers armfuls of plush toys each week.

The toys are given to children with cancer and other life-threatening diseases whose families may not be able to afford such comforts while struggling to pay medical bills.

“I thought to myself, people always do this around the holidays and then they forget about it,” Broutzos said of his campaign, which he calls “Build a Smile.”

Broutzos’ neighbor, La Jollan Bill Bennett, joined the effort two months ago, and the two of them now deliver the toys together every Sunday.

“Good feelings, that’s what I get out of it,” said Bennett, who owns Pet Kingdom on Sports Arena Boulevard. “We get an extra day of life added onto to our lifespan for every Sunday we do this,” he said, noting a standing joke the duo has with admissions desk volunteer Millie Madrigal, whom they refer to as “grandma.” (Bennett’s nickname is “grandpa”.)

Millie Madrigal (left) and Camille Stovall-Ceja of Rady Children’s Hospital survey the regular Sunday delivery of stuffed animals from La Jollans Bill Bennett and Jim Broutzos.

Madrigal gives the toys to a supervisor, who delivers them based on need and appropriateness. She said the gifts are always well received and make the children “very, very happy.”

Though Broutzos and Bennett never meet the children who receive their tokens of goodwill, they see the concern and anguish in the faces of parents and loved ones lingering in the lobby. Broutzos said witnessing his best friend’s 3-year-old daughter battle life-threatening cancer at Children’s Hospital in the early 1990s inspired him. Though she survived chemotherapy, a bone marrow transplant and other procedures — after being given a 20 percent chance for survival — other families are not so fortunate.

“I was visiting her a couple times a week,” Broutzos said. “I saw children walking around with bald heads pulling machines around behind them. I was just kind of flabbergasted to even see this. I didn’t even know kids got that sick. It just hits you every time you go in there.”

Broutzos began delivering the toys after one of his clients handed him a large, plush orca whale they won at SeaWorld, the day before Christmas. Broutzos remembered his experience bringing toys to his friend’s daughter. “She just lit up,” he recalled.

Bennett buys toys and stuffed animals in bulk when they go on sale, typically after holidays such as Christmas, Valentine’s Day or Easter. He is hoping to expand his campaign and is looking for donations from others.

“I’ve got jobs all over the county,” he said. “I will go pick up the toys. Whatever is easiest for people to get those toys down there, I’ll do it.”

Bennett said he enjoys knowing he is doing something good for others. He said it also gets him out of honey-do projects on Sundays.

“You know, when your wife or honey says, ‘Honey, do this,’” he quipped. “I’m able to escape from doing yard work.”

Related posts:

  1. Obama visits La Jolla
  2. La Jolla youngsters sell lemonade to help veterans
  3. La Jolla Farmers Market celebrates 12th anniversary
  4. City panel OKs master plan for La Jolla’s Scripps Park
  5. La Jolla Christmas Parade registration opens; lifeguards set as grand marshals

Short URL: http://www.lajollalight.com/?p=89240

Posted by Pat Sherman on Jun 27, 2012. Filed under Featured Story, La Jolla, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

1 Comment for “La Jollans give children with life-threatening illnesses a reason to smile”

  1. Kudos and God Bless these two wonderful and generous fellas!

Leave a Reply

La Jolla Community Calendar

Facebook

Bottom Buttons 1

Bottom Buttons 2

Bottom Buttons 3

Bottom Buttons 4

Bottom Buttons 5

Bottom Buttons 6

RSS North Coastal News

  • Local camp shapes Solana Beach youth into community leaders July 28, 2014
    After attending the inaugural La Colonia de Eden Gardens Youth Leadership Camp last year, Edgar Vergara was inspired to make positive change in Solana Beach’s Eden Gardens community. Along with other local teens, the 15-year-old co-founded the youth group La Colonia Changers and recently hosted a town hall forum on underage drinking. Passionate about making […]
  • Del Mar Union School District approves new contract for superintendent July 28, 2014
    The Del Mar Union School District Board July 23 approved the new contract for Superintendent Holly McClurg through June 30, 2018. Per the contract, McClurg’s annual salary will be $185,000 with an annual doctoral stipend of $10,000. She will receive a car allowance of $400 a month, 25 vacation days, health benefits and a retirement contribution of $700 a mon […]
  • Carmel Valley 5K and 10K to hit Gonzales Canyon trails in September July 28, 2014
    A new trail running race is coming to Carmel Valley this fall. Jeff Stoner of Del Mar’s Seasick Marketing visited the Carmel Valley Community Planning Board to update the board on the plans for the Carmel Valley Trail 5K and 10K Run, set to take place on Sept. 20. A portion of race proceeds will go toward the Challenged Athletes Foundation. […]