WESLEY | Walker Rosenmeyer, 7, has spent the past two years in and out of hospitals due to kidney failure.
However, his most recent visit to the University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital in Iowa City was a fun trip for the little boy from Wesley.
Two days after Christmas, Walker -- whose kidneys are now functioning at 100 percent -- and his family brought 11 boxes of toys, coloring books, clothing and other items to the hospital to thank them for the care he received.
"He was stoked," said Walker's mom, Alison Rosenmeyer.
When asked why he wanted to collect items for the hospital, Walker replied, "so the kids feel good."
The hospital staff disperses toys to the children as needed throughout the year.
Alison said whenever a child at the hospital has to undergo a procedure, even if it's just an IV, the staff gives him or her a toy. This means the hospital goes through it's supply quickly.
"He (Walker) received a lot of items when he was at the hospital, which is what makes us want to give back," Alison said.
In 2016 Walker was diagnosed with ASP, a virus that usually attacks blood vessels.
Walker had a rare form of the virus that attacks body organs. In his case, ASP infected his kidneys.
When his kidneys failed, he went to the Stead Family Children's Hospital.
Walker also spent time at Kossuth Regional Health Center in Algona and at Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa in Mason City.
Just before Christmas in 2016, his family donated 12 stuffed animals and a dozen blankets to the pediatrics floor at Mercy.
Walker attends Bishop Garrigan Catholic School in Algona.
In 2017 the Bishop Garrigan High School basketball players had a toy drive and were looking for somewhere to take the items.
Alison asked if her family could take them to the hospitals where Walker had received treatment. The Rosenmeyers also took some toys they had collected.
The items filled nine boxes, but Walker wasn't satisfied.
"He said, 'Mom, I want to do more than nine boxes,'" Alison said.
In October 2018 the family organized a drive for toys and other items on their own.
They set up a Facebook page called "Walker is Giving Back" to spread the word.
The page includes a link to the Stead Family Children's Hospital's giving guidelines, which include the items most requested by patients and their families.
All items must be new.
Many of those who donated were from Wesley or Algona, but the Rosenmeyers also received donations from the Britt and Garner area where some of their relatives live.
They even got some donations from people in Minnesota.
Some people donated cash. Walker picked out items to buy for the children at the hospital.
"He had fun with it," Alison said.
The family received more than 500 items, including toys, clothing and coloring books. A dentist in Algona added toothbrushes and toothpaste to the collection.
All the items could barely fit into the family's pickup.
Walker wants to collect items for the children again next Christmas. His mom said if they get more donations than in 2018 and they won't all fit in the pickup, they will do whatever it takes to get the items to Iowa City.
The Rosenmeyers plan to begin collecting toys and other items again in October.