When Dylan Alford was placed in Children’s Medical Center of Dallas to undergo brain surgery at the age of 6, he didn’t see it as something to fear, but as an opportunity to help other children.
“He’s been giving to others since he was able to walk,” said Angie Alford, Dylan’s mother. “After his first brain surgery he got the idea that he wanted to do something to bless all the other children at the hospital.”
Angie said each day a lady called the Gift Fairy would walk the halls and give toys to the children. One day Dylan approached the Gift Fairy and asked if he could do something to help. She explained that they are always collecting toys and he could definitely make a donation. Although Dylan thought it was a great idea, he wanted to do more than just make a toy donation. He wanted the opportunity to help more than one or two children.
Dylan began saving up his allowance to buy a bag full of toys to hand out to the children. And while that was fun, he still felt there was more to do. He began soliciting the help of business owners and people in the community to make donations. And out of that Hands of Angels ministry was birthed.
For the past 13 years, Dylan has made it his mission to raise funds and even spend his own money to provide toys for the boys and girls at Children’s. Three years ago was a record year for the ministry.
“We started collecting toys right after Thanksgiving,” Dylan said. “By the time we were ready to deliver right before Christmas, we had more than 3,000 toys to take to the kids.”
He added that the ministry has continued to grow and it’s all because of the people in the community.
“This year we added four new business sponsors who agreed to help us with our mission,” Angie said. “Pizza Inn, JC Penney, Planet Beach and The Lord’s Gym all agreed to join with us in making Christmas for the kids at the hospital special.”
Other sponsors include Waxahachie High School, Waxahachie Ninth Grade Academy, Howard Jr. High, Finley Jr. High, Farley Street Baptist Church, Texas Roadhouse in Mansfield, DART and the YMCA.
“If I left anyone out please know that it was unintentional,” Dylan said. “You are all very appreciated and I thank you for helping make a child’s day at Children’s.”
The entire family works very closely to make this mission possible. Angie said it gives them a great feeling as a family to be able to deliver the toys to the hospital.
“It’s really a thrill to hand out toys to the kids,” she said. “It takes their mind off of what they’re going through medically. And it’s a nice break emotionally for the parents.”
As a mother, Angie said she is amazed by her son’s giving heart.
“He is just an amazing young man,” she said. “He loves the Lord and just wants to be used by him to make other’s lives better.”
Since being diagnosed with a brain tumor, Dylan has undergone several surgeries and treatments. He said he always enjoyed staying at the hospital as a young child.
“I think I really liked it at Children’s back then better than living at home,” he joked. “I had cable and could order anything off the menu anytime I wanted. I even ordered pizza late one night.”
Dylan is now 19 years old. His tumor is inoperable because it’s too close to the brain stem, but it hasn’t grown in eight years. Now when he goes to the doctor it is just for routine annual checkups.
When asked what he thinks the future holds for Hands of Angels, he said he envisions that it will continue to grow and flourish.
Next year, I think we’re going to have way more toys, because I’m going to start collecting toys in late October,” he said. “And I’m going to begin contacting corporations and industries about donating toys.”
Dylan lives with his parents Robert and Angie and has an 11-year-old brother Cody. He has his sights set on a career in acting and has already appeared in eight movies, a television show and six commercials.
“I really like roles that are totally opposite my personality,” he said. “And I thoroughly enjoyed playing a rather ignorant bully in the movie ‘Tommy and the Cool Mule.’ But I’m still planning to go to college and study business.”
He said he thanks everyone for making this ministry possible. The support of the people means so much to him and Children’s Hospital. And he hopes that everyone has a blessed Christmas.
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