Inspired by a Terminally-Ill Little Boy in Indiana, Kaplan Employees Donate Hugga Pets to Children’s Hospitals

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Kaplan Early Learning Company Employees Donate Hugga Pets to the Shriners Hospital for Children in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Brenner Children's Hospital in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

When Kaplan employee Jodie Travis heard a story on the radio about Jacob “Jake” McConahay, a little boy from Indianapolis with stage 4 Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma, a very aggressive cancer, who had a set a goal to collect 1,000 pillow pets by March, she had to get involved herself.

“I heard this sweet story about a seven-year-old little boy in a children’s hospital in Indiana. He has been given 1-2 months to live, and his goal is to have pillow pets donated to all of the other kids there in the hospital to keep them company while their parents and family aren’t able to be there.”

On the way to one of his treatments at Riley Hospital, Jake, whose aunt had bought him a dinosaur Pet Pillow, told his mother that every kid needed a pillow pet. In November, Jake and his family set a goal to collect 1,000 Pillow Pets for delivery to Riley Hospital by March.

“I wanted to help this little boy reach his dream before he has to say goodbye. I talked to Hal Kaplan about it and told him I would buy five if he would match that five,” said Travis, “And, of course, he said yes. So I decided to ask around and see if maybe anyone else would want to donate one, too.”

“Jodie was quick to call on all of us with this cause and I’m glad she reached out to me,” said Connie Ellis, the manager of Kaplan Toys.

“When Jake was presented with over 1,000 Pet Pillow last week – enough for every child at Riley Hospital -- the organizers of the Pet Pillow drive encouraged groups like us from out of the area to make donations to other children’s hospitals,” said Ellis. “Jodie selected the Shriners Hospital for Children in Cincinnati to receive our donation because Caleb Pulliam, the son of one of her friends, spent time there. We sent them 22 pink and blue Hugga Pet Bears in his honor.”

“Our next shipment will be going to the Brenner Children’s Hospital cancer ward because they are local. It will contain a mix of Hugga Pets, including the Hugga Pet Inspirational Bunny,” said Ellis. “This is very exciting for us all – as well as for these children and their families.”

About Kaplan Early Learning Company
Based in Lewisville, North Carolina, Kaplan Early Learning Company provides products and services that enhance children’s learning. Since 1968, the company has delivered innovative products and services that support educators and caregivers worldwide in the creation of quality learning environments.

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Jennifer Lewis
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