We are the Leonard’s….your typical, small town, rural family of 5, with a strong love for family, friends, and making people SMILE!!! We have 3 beautiful (energetic, crazy, spunky, silly, outgoing) kids who keep us on our toes, but we wouldn’t have it any other way!
We became parents in August of 2009, when we welcomed our sweet baby boy, Darren, into this world. He was perfect, and we officially had our own little family!!! When he was 6 weeks old, we noticed that his left eye became “lazy,” and it was advised by our pediatrician to see an ophthalmologist at our local children’s hospital. Just 2 weeks later, at the eye appointment, our journey with childhood cancer began. Darren, was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor at just 8 weeks old.
Darren continues to kick cancers butt, and is currently in his 3rd round of treatment, which marks 10 years and MANY different chemo’s and approaches, but he’s done it all with such courage, strength and a SMILE! God has carried us through, and it’s amazing watching his story unfold, and see the plan that He has for his life! Darren LOVES his roll as CSM or “Chief SMILE Maker” here at Happy Crates, and he is the founder of our non-profit, “Happy Crates Gives.”
While walking the halls of the hospital, time and time again, we learned the true value of a SMILE. It’s something that I believe we ALL take for granted at some point in our crazy, busy lives. Hustling from one thing to another, just worrying about ourselves, and taking care of our own families. However I must say, the SMILE from that stranger walking towards us in the hall, or that little one glancing up for a quick grin while racing down the hall to their appointment, began to brighten some of the darkest days through our journey. It was then that we realized, that something that could help bring US joy through our journey, was by helping bring joy to others!
Our family started with “Darren’s Joy Bags” back in 2012, which were bags filled with fun toys and activities to help keep the kids busy while doing their treatments, inpatient stays, etc. We would put a post on fb reaching out to our friends and family, letting them know that we had a goal of delivering these bags to the oncology kids at Darren’s hospital, and if anyone would like to help, to let us know! It never failed, in a matter of 24 hrs, or less, we’d end up with double our goal, and sometimes more! Year after year, it grew and we expanded to delivering them to another area hospital, in addition to our own! We learned that people wanted a way to help, but just never knew how to go about doing something like this, other than just donating toys to the hospital. THEY were excited that they got to have a direct impact in making a child smile, and WE were excited to get to witness that SMILE when we delivered them to the hospital!
We truly believe that attitude is such a HUGE part of the battle, for not only the child, but the family as well. Through treatments, hospital stays, illness, surgeries, pokes, and EVERYTHING else that comes with a cancer treatment, seeing a simple SMILE on their face can brighten even the darkest days. The words “your child has cancer” are words that NO parent should ever have to hear, but until that day comes, we’re determined to do everything that we can do to put SMILES on the faces of the kids that fight a battle that NO child should ever have to endure.
When you shop Happy Crates, it’s so much more than just a shirt, or just a gift crate that you sent to someone to make them SMILE, it goes so much further, and for that, we thank YOU! <3 “Together, we create SMILES!”
Have COURAGE, be KIND, spread JOY, and Stand tall to END childhood cancer!!