Jodeci Buck was in first grade when her 9-month-old sister, Anela, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. Jodeci was sent home to Red Wing, Minnesota, with her grandmother, not really understanding what was wrong with her sister, who stayed at the hospital in Rochester. "I just screamed and cried; I had no idea what was going on," she tells the Rochester Post-Bulletin. When she was allowed to visit her sister, who she learned was "very sick," Jodeci recalls that one of her sister's nurses on the Saint Marys campus gave her a toy. That simple act of kindness planted a seed of philanthropy that's stuck with her to this day.
In fact, on Jodeci's seventh birthday, after visiting her sister in the hospital, instead of asking for gifts for herself, according to the P-B, she asked her friends to bring toys for pediatric patients at Mayo Clinic who were going through struggles like her sister was. Jodeci's friends and their families responded by giving more than 160 gifts for her to hand out to hospitalized kids. "I just thought it was so humbling," her mom, Amy Buck, tells the P-B. "As a mom, you want your kids to give and have a heart."
Last Wednesday, some 12 years later, Jodeci was at it again, this time asking friends and family for toys in lieu of graduation gifts. "She brought it up to me when we were talking about her (high school) graduation invites and we were talking about her party," Amy Buck tells KAAL-TV, which also reported Jodeci's story of goodwill. "When she said it, I thought, 'This is wonderful.'"
Folks back home in Red Wing agreed and showered Jodeci with another 200-plus "colorful toys." Jodeci and her family loaded the loot onto shopping carts and "rolling shelves" outside of the Mayo Building on Wednesday, July 2, and delivered them to the kids at the Pediatrics Center on the 16th floor. She says the smiles on the faces of the young patients and their families made her think back again to the special gift she received when she and her sister were in their place. "It's nice to give back to all the kids," she tells KAAL-TV, and "to see that smile on their face when they get that present."
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