Chris Nee was just 4 years old when he was diagnosed with leukemia. Over four years, he battled the blood disease, which sees over 62,000 new U.S. cases each year. His struggles were the inspiration behind Healing Hats and Toys, the Springfiled-based nonprofit he and his brother, Tom, founded in 2010 to help kids facing similar diagnoses.
On Oct. 7, they’ll host their Beef & Beer fundraiser at Barnaby’s in Havertown. The goal is to raise awareness and funds. “When [Chris] was sick, getting a new toy would make him happy—would save the day—because he was stuck in the hospital,” says Tom.
Hats may not seem like an obvious choice. But Tom recalls how his brother felt self-conscious when he started losing his hair—and a hat really helped.
The two began distributing toys and hats at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where Chris was treated. They eventually spread the love to other healthcare organizations, including St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, St. Edmond’s Home for Children and the Ronald McDonald House. In the past seven years, they’ve delivered an estimated 7,500 hats and toys. “It’s definitely one of the best things, seeing those kids smile,” says Tom.
The Beef & Beer event will be held from 7 to 10 p.m. Cost is $35, which includes food and drinks.