Raising Cane’s holds toy drive

By LYNETTE SOWELL
Cove Leader-Press 

Monday, July 16 will mark what would have been the 8th birthday of Connor Hedge, a former student at House Creek Elementary, who passed away on July 10, 2016, less than one week shy of his sixth birthday. 
Connor had battled a rare childhood brain cancer, neuroblastoma, for much of his young life. 
For the second year, Hedge’s family is ensuring that his legacy continues with a toy drive. This week, a toy donation box has been set up at Raising Cane’s in Copperas Cove, which serves as a collection location for new, unwrapped toys. Toys, along with any monetary donations, will be collected through Monday, July 16.
The toys and donations for toys will be given to Dell Children’s Hospital. 
“Dell Children’s was our ‘home hospital’ when we moved to Texas. They have wonderful doctors, nurses and staff,” said Kristen Hedge, Connor’s mother. “They really helped us and worked very closely with his oncologist Dr. Granger at Cook Children’s.” 
The Hedge family now lives in Florida, but Hedge was on board with the drive taking place in Copperas Cove, when Julie Moser, founder of Pink Warrior Angels, talked to the Hedge family about holding a toy drive. 
“Having the community of Copperas Cove still embrace Connor and our family to help carry on our desire to ‘pay it forward’ means the world to us,” Hedge said. “Cove is our family as well, so this is just an example of their huge heart.”
“We have been a supporter of the #ConnorStrong movement since they moved to Copperas Cove,” said Moser. “Shortly after Connor passed, the Hedge family moved in next door to me. During their time in Texas I got to personally know the Hedge family and even went to his birthday party last year.” 
Moser brought the idea for the drive to Shaun Smith, manager of Raising Cane’s. Smith didn’t hesitate for the store to participate.  
“We jumped right on it. It’s definitely an opportunity to keep giving back,” said Smith, whose store has also provided lemonade gift cards for life guards at the city’s pools, supported the library’s summer reading program, and is already looking ahead to Stuff the Bus in August. 
In exchange for a toy donation in memory of Connor, Smith said donors will receive a gift card for a free Raising Cane’s lemonade. 
Last year in commemoration of Connor’s birthday, the Hedge family hosted a toy drive and party at MAKS Family Fun Center, with toys donated to pediatric oncology patients at Cook Children’s Hospital and Dell Children’s Hospital. 
Coupled with this year’s collection of toys from Copperas Cove, Pink Warrior Angels in New Braunfels is also collecting toys, which will all be gathered and dropped off Dell Children’s Hospital. 

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