Toms River cancer survivor is holding a holiday gift drive for young patients
20-year-old Chris Nolze of Toms River, an 8-year cancer survivor who has undergone 21 operations, is again using his foundation to help spread holiday joy to young patients afflicted with the disease.
Nolze discussed the Holiday Gift Collection that his Foundation "Chris's Fight For A Cure" holds each year for Children's Specialized Hospital of Toms River on the "Townsquare Tonight" show on News Talk 1160 and 1310 WOBM-AM.
Nolze started the Foundation to give back to others the same way people gave to him after he was diagnosed with Trigeminal Neuraglia at age 12.
"Neighbors that we never saw were bringing over meals for my mom to be able to be able to just make up because she didn't have the time between me being in the hospital, and just everyone helping out. I wanted to do the same for others and that's how Chris's Fight For A Cure came to be," said Nolze.
Nolze is currently a student at Ocean County College in Toms River and got involved with Children's Specialized Hospital as an alumnus of Toms River South as a member of its Spirit Club which goes Christmas caroling at the facility each year.
"During my health process, there was actually a point in time where a doctor had told my mom just to drop me off at the hospital and let them take care of me because she wasn't going to be able to handle taking care of me anymore. So, I tend to very much relate to a lot of the patients there in one way or another, and unfortunately for a lot of them that's what happened in their case. They had to basically live there because of their medical issues," said Nolze.
Nolze noted that many of the patients of Children's Specialized Hospital are severely handicapped, so it's difficult to know whether what he tells them about his experience with cancer resonates, but said he does know the visits have a deep, positive impact on the children.
"What I do know is that they are overjoyed with the singing from the Christmas caroling, from opening the gifts, whether they even know what it is or not, just them being able to feel the gifts and open them and tear the wrapping paper open and all the nurses crying because it's the first time in that entire year that they've seen the patients that happy."
Nolze's mother, Angela Bennett, explained a new digital component for this year's Holiday Gift Drive.
"On Amazon, they have what is called Smile Amazon and we have our bank account set up to that, so when you go to Chris's Fight For A Cure with that link, if you purchase through that link, it's like a 5 percent donation will go back towards the Foundation, so not only are you purchasing something to donate to the Gift Drive, you're also giving a percentage to donate to the Foundation itself," said Bennett.
Nolze said the Foundation has received many items from anonymous donors which are greatly appreciated. He frequently posts updates on the Foundation's Facebook page, including photos of items collected.
"We always try to keep up so that people know how the fundraising is going," Nolze said.
Some of the donations being collected this year include any size batteries, scented lotions, stamping ink pads, hand-held massage devices, glue sticks, Compact Discs (calming music, nature sounds and white noise), Cloud B sleeping animals, Little Tikers Grip n Roll Balls and donations for the children. DVD movies include: Monsters Inc., Despicable Me, Wreck it Ralph, The Croods, Epic, Escape from Planet Earth, Little Mermaid, Mary Poppins, A Goofy Moive, Aladdin, Fantasia, Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh and Cinderella.
Unwrapped gift donations can be dropped off at the home of Chris Nolze at 40 Thomas Street in Toms River and Shut Up and Eat! at 804 Main Street in Toms River.
Additional information can be found on Chris's Fight For A Cure Facebook page at hhttps://www.facebook.com/Chris.Fight.For.A.Cure.