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Ryan Scroggin has been through eight surgeries in her young life for a bone and joint condition, yet when asked what she wanted for her seventh birthday, she only thought about easing the suffering of others.
The little girl from Noble, Oklahoma, made a special request to her family this year.
"She was sitting in the backseat of the car one day and said, 'I don't want any presents, I don't want a party, I want to go to OU Children's Hospital and give stuffed animals to kids who are really sick there,'' Scroggin's mother, Keke Dunn, told TODAY.com. "The people at the hospital couldn't believe that someone so young who had such a rare bone and joint disorder would think of something like this."
Thanks to the generosity of friends and strangers, her birthday wish helped hundreds of kids at the Children's Hospital at OU Medical Center in Oklahoma City. The outpouring of donations was so large that they loaded all the stuffed animals into a convoy of about 60 jeeps at a dealership in Oklahoma City and delivered them with a police escort to the hospital on July 25.
"There were no words,'' Dunn said. "I couldn't do anything but cry. Ryan couldn't do anything but smile. She was shocked."
Scroggin has arthrogryposis, a rare disorder that affects the limbs and can limit mobility. She has already undergone multiple surgeries at OU Medical Center and will require more, according to Dunn. In May, she was at OU Medical Center because of illness when a 2-year-old boy in the bed next to her died from head trauma, inspiring her birthday wish.
"It really got to her,'' Dunn said. "She said, 'He didn't even get to get a stuffed animal.' That was when she said that for her birthday she wanted to give back."
Ryan wrote a personal plea for stuffed animals that was posted on Facebook by her uncle, Abraham Farrar, and the letter was also posted in the thrift store in Norman, Oklahoma, called Donate a Miracle that is owned by her grandmother. Her letter spread on social media, and soon stuffed animals started pouring in from donors around the country, including a woman from Arizona who brought 500 of them to the store.
The selflessness by Ryan is nothing new to her family, which includes two older sisters and an older brother.
"She never complains about her issues,'' her grandmother, Lyz Farrar, told TODAY.com. "It's amazing. She can't play with a whole lot of stuff because of her disabilities, but she is satisfied. She never asks for more, and she wants other people to have stuff."
The family has been so inspired by the generosity of others that Dunn and her husband, Terry, now plan to make the stuffed animal drive a regular thing and call it "Ryan's Wish." Next year's goal is to benefit sick children in Dallas.
"After Ryan saw how big it got and how many people were so excited about this, she said it's something she wants to do every year for her birthday,'' Dunn said.