6-year old-donates birthday gifts to children at UMC

Published: Mar. 3, 2014 at 12:32 AM CST
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LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - A birthday is an exciting day in life of most children, with expectations of gifts, friends and birthday treats - but this year, six-year-old Connor Perryman had other ideas for his special day.

The Lubbock-Cooper Central Elementary kindergartner said that instead of throwing a typical party, he wanted to give back to children like him by donating all of his gifts to the UMC Child Life Program.

"I know what it is like to be in the hospital a bunch," Connor said, "and so I know what it's like to not have any toys or video games [in the hospital], so I'm going to give them to kids in the hospital."

Connor is hospitalized every 10 to 12 weeks on average due to dehydration and colon pain, which complicate his diabetes.

As an infant, Connor was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. Since then, doctors have diagnosed him with two other auto-immune diseases that affect his digestive system.

"We check his sugar anywhere from eight to ten times a day," said Connor's mom, Vangelia Perryman. "He's on an insulin pump - he goes to a clinic for that three times about every three months. He suffers from bowel incontinence; he has a lot of pain, nausea, vomiting and fatigue."

Perryman said it was during one of Connor's many treatments when he got the idea to donate his presents to other kids.

"He just asked, 'Where do the toys come from?'," she said, "and we explained to him that people buy them and donate them to the hospital, and he immediately said I wasn't to give presents, I want to give gifts."

She thought the idea would be one that he forgot about quickly, but as weeks went by, it seemed to grow stronger.

"It's just been incredible," she said. "The toys that everyone brought, his school provided entertainment and activities for the kids, the food, the cake - it's just all been overwhelming."

Connor is in love with dinosaurs, specifically the T-Rex. Because of that, the Texas Tech Museum provided a space for Connor's party on Sunday afternoon, complete with a dinosaur dig box for his guests.

One of the people in attendance at the party was Connor's pediatrician, Michal Pankratz, MD.

"I first met Connor when he was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes several years ago as a baby in the intensive care unit," Pankratz said. "Because of intestinal diseases, he has trouble with foods in general, and then that's complicated by diabetes, and so for him, this is just an enormous challenge."

Pankratz said that she and Connor's team of doctors face a daily battle against Connor's illness, but he doesn't seem to let it get to him.

"He has just a champion spirit," she said. "He is such a fighter. He has been in the hospital so much, and yet he fails to balk, at least for me. If he shows any sign of sadness, it's probably for his mom, and maybe his grandmother."

Pankratz said she believes the future for Connor is bright.

His mother said the next thing they want to do is raise enough money to get Connor a diabetic alert dog - a plan that is already in the works.

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