By Kelly Werthmann
AURORA, Colo. (CBS4)– A family from Montana traveled to Colorado on a mission to spread joy.
“We’d like to see you have a big smile on your face,” Sheldon Eaton said as he met a young cancer patient on Friday afternoon.
Pulling a red wagon full of goodies, the Eaton family made a special visit to Children’s Hospital Colorado in Aurora.
“We’re donating 30 iPads to the hospital for patients during their stay,” Dallas Eaton said with a smile as he walked into another patient’s room.
It may seem like just a kind and simple donation, until you understand why the family crossed state lines to be there.
“We know how much pain some of these guys are going through,” Dallas told CBS4’s Kelly Werthmann.
Just a few years ago, Dallas lost his brother, Ryan, to a rare cancer. During his treatment, often at a hospital in Seattle, Ryan used an iPad to stay in touch with family and friends. It was his dream to help other cancer patients do the same.
“The idea came from him when he was traveling,” Dallas explained. “He realized how many other patients travel and family couldn’t be there. He thought, ‘Geez, if these guys just had an iPad they could connect with family and friends back home, they could play games, they could watch YouTube, listen to music, or whatever it may be to help them relax.’”
Before Ryan’s diagnosis, the brothers started a T-shirt business called United Luv. Their company’s vision quickly changed when Ryan began his battle against Synovial Sarcoma – instead of putting money in their pockets, they put money aside to purchase iPads for hospitals and cancer patients around Montana.
Although Ryan was not able to see the dream of United Luv come to fruition, his family is now continuing his mission through the non-profit.
“It feels really good to be able to carry on his legacy,” Dallas said. “At the same time, it’s often very hard to go in and almost relive some of these experiences.”
After visiting one room with a young patient, Ryan’s father broke down in tears.
“It just amazes me to see these little kids and what they’re going through right now,” Sheldon Eaton said. “It’s bittersweet, but if we can bring a little sunshine to their darkness, that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Meeting the Eaton Family brought a big smile to 13-year-old Jesse Graham’s face. He said the iPads will help patients just like him.
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“If kids are afraid of needles, like when they’re getting their blood drawn or stuff like that, they could use it to get their mind off of it,” he said.
That is one of many reasons why the Eaton family visits as many hospitals as they can.
“We’ve hit all the major hospitals in Montana, went to Seattle Children’s Hospital and St. Jude’s,” Dallas said.
The visit to Children’s Hospital in Aurora helped the Eaton family reach a big goal.
They have now donated more than 300 iPads to hospitals and patients around the country and they’re not stopping now.
“We want to keep the ball rolling,” Dallas said. “Coming together as a family to carry on our brother’s legacy and joy to other people is exactly what he would want. It’s such an honor.”
Children’s Hospital said they are extremely grateful for the Eaton family’s generous donation. Each device will be available for patients to use as often as they’d like, especially during infusion treatments.
LINK: United Luv
Kelly Werthmann joined the CBS4 team as the morning reporter in 2012. After serving as weekend morning anchor, Kelly is now Covering Colorado First for CBS4 News at 10. Connect with Kelly on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @KellyCBS4.