COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Giving in the spirit of receiving – that's the goal of one Lexington family this Thanksgiving.
As the Sox family packed up two truckloads of donations – it became immensely clear that the Sox boys, 12-year-old Brayden and 7-year-old Weston are not doing this because they are being forced. There are things you expect out of two young boys during the holidays.
"It kinda started out as a really small idea," said Jamie Sox, Brayden and Weston's Mom. "But it got really big."
She's talking about the 1,200 cans of play-doh, 500 boxes of colored pencils and crayons and 425 coloring books. All are items that church members, friends, and family have donated in honor of Brayden's birthday, which was on November 11th.
They wanted to find a way to give back during the holiday season.
Not only are there toys and knick-knacks, but comfort items, like blankets. The comfort of a warm blanket with a familiar face is something Brayden knows all too well.
"I got all these character blankets," Brayden said.
The soft fleece blankets with superheroes and princesses are all destined for the kids staying on the 5th floor of Palmetto Health Children's Hospital - otherwise known as the kids cancer floor. But for the Sox family, this isn't a one-time visit.
It's a homecoming of sorts. After all, they were just here last week. And they're back today for more tests.
"We come every two weeks," Brayden said.
The Sox family is paying it forward as they continue to pay back the loan on Brayden's life.
"Brayden was diagnosed in July 2016 with leukemia," said Jamie Sox. "And he's been in treatment since then."
Brayden went through 9 months of chemo. He's now in the maintenance phase. His longest 2-week stint in the hospital was one year ago.
He went home on Thanksgiving Day, just in time to spend the holiday with his family.
"I've gotten used to it," Brayden said.
He remembers the things that kept him the most comfortable in the hospital.
"I had Batman blankets and I had a baseball blanket," Brayden said. "Sometimes the chemo can make you cold."
He also remembers how it felt for someone to bring him those things when he was at his worst.
"It made me feel really happy," he said. "And made me feel like I had people that cared about me."
Bray's Mom said their message to others in treatment right now is that it is a journey – it's one that fosters growth and change for a family. It's also a tough one – and when someone lends a helping hand, it's more appreciated than anyone can truly understand. They want to be that helping hand for others going through their daily struggle.
"Even though we're still in the midst of treatment, we're just thankful for where we are right now," Sox said. "And just know that there's a lot of kids there who are going through the same things we did last year."
After all - the best gifts are the ones that come from the heart.
"I'd tell them to keep trucking through," Brayden said.