RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) — In less than a month, 14-year-old Savannah Day will have brain surgery at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. Her recovery period will keep her in the hospital through Christmas, but that’s not stopping her from bringing yuletide cheer to Cincinnati.
Savannah has chiari malformation, a condition that could lead to paralysis without surgery.
“It’s basically where the brain has actually grown into the spinal canal, and it’s actually blocking the spinal fluid from going in and out of the brain,” said Michelle Day, Savannah’s mother.
The eighth grader has suffered several stroke-like episodes since her diagnosis in August of this year.
Savannah and her two sisters compete regularly in competitive cheerleading competitions. They found out about Savannah’s diagnosis while on the way to cheer practice in Roanoke.
They came to Richmond Sunday to participate in Savannah’s final competition before the surgery, but they also brought along the “Cheer 4 Savannah” campaign.
Savannah and her sisters decided they would try to collect enough toys to give at least one to each child who will spend Christmas in the Cincinnati Children Hospital with them. The goal of 500 toys has come and gone. As a part of the Cheer 4 Savannah campaign, the family said they have received more than 1500 donated toys.
“It’s like a toy factory,” said Savannah about the family basement, which serves as storage space for all the toys.
At Sunday’s competition at the Richmond Coliseum, squads and cheerleaders from across the state brought toys to donate to Savannah’s cause. A Facebook page created for the group has more than 1,200 “likes.”
Savannah’s surgery is scheduled for December 12.
“I just think about the toy drive, and it helps me get through it,” said Savannah.
“I think it’s going to be very rewarding. I think Savannah will go into surgery on such a high note,” said her mother.
More information and updates on Savannah’s progress can be found on the Cheer 4 Savannah Facebook page.