Mother who lost daughter gives out gifts to cancer patients

AJ Dodson
Posted at 5:42 PM, Dec 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-16 21:16:55-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A local mom collected toys to be distributed at the hospital that fought to save her daughter’s life.

A trailer full of presents arrived at the Children's Hospital at TriStar Centennial Medical Center Friday morning. Santa's elves brought gifts up to the pediatric oncology floor. For Stephanie Dodson, this was her first time back at the hospital since she lost her daughter, AJ.

AJ passed away after a battle with Leukemia and COVID-19.

"Doing this and honoring her is our way of keeping her alive,” Dodson said.

The McMinnville community showed up in full force to donate presents for Stephanie to bring to Centennial.

“One of our things was — 'to know her, was to love her,' and we’ve felt that through the community, and through our friends,” Dodson said.

She believes this is what AJ would have wanted.

"She is probably in heaven doing back handsprings and tucks over it and shooting basketballs, just so happy," Dodson said.

Harley Perkey, 10, is a cancer patient who got a gift bag.

Harley's step-mother, Mandi, said she's in the fight for her life.

"Harley has myelodysplastic syndrome, which it turns into AML Leukemia. It is hereditary. Her mom Brenda passed away with it in May, she was really close to getting her bone marrow transplant, but she didn’t make it." Perkey said

Harley's sister also died from the disease.

thumbnail_IMG_7662.jpgHarley Perkey
Harley Perkey opens a gift at the Children's Hospital at TriStar Centennial Medical Center

But just in time for the holidays, Harley got her Christmas wish — a bone marrow transplant.

"She shouldn’t have to go through any of it, but she’s done it with grace and faith I’ve never even seen in an adult," Perkey said.

Santa also visited patients Friday. The Christmas cheer will help Harley get through these tough times.

"I just want to say Merry Christmas and keep your light shining just like my AJ did,” Dodson said.

Get NewsChannel 5 Now, wherever, whenever, always free.

Watch the live stream below, and download our apps on Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and more. Click here to learn more.