By Pachina Fletcher
LANSING, Ill. (December 16, 2022) – In 2014, Cody Ziemkowski was in an accident while riding his bicycle. Initially, doctors thought he had a concussion, but it was actually much more serious. He had a fractured skull, brain bleed, multiple fractures in his face, and other issues, leading to brain surgery. Cody was in the hospital at Children’s Hope in Oak Lawn for several weeks recovering. He had to receive therapy to learn how to walk again, eat, and perform other basic tasks.
“We didn’t realize that everyone had heard about Cody’s accident. The community of Lansing was so supportive of our family. And helped us during the tough time,” said Colleen Ziemkowski, Cody’s mom.
Helmets for Cody begins and grows
In October 2014, Cody was able to return to school. “A lady in the community contacted me and asked if she could donate some toys in Cody’s name to a hospital. And that was really how Helmets for Cody got started,” Ziemkowski said.
“We began by giving toys to the children who were in the hospital with Cody. Then we expanded to the Ronald McDonald House and 16 other hospitals. Last year we gave away $40,000 worth of toys to these places,” she continued, estimating that even more was was donated this year.
The impact of “Helmets for Cody” grows year by year. Though the pandemic changed how toys were collected, the Ziemkowski family was still able to bless many families with gifts.
”Since we were not physically able to deliver the toys, an angel suggested that we accept monetary donations. So we ordered over $6,000 dollars of toys and had them shipped from Amazon to the hospitals,” said Ziemkowski of the recent pandemic holiday seasons.
For the last two years, the family collected food as well as toys. Collecting pop cans all year round, the Ziemkowskis turn them in and use the money to buy food staples for the Ronald McDonald house.
Giving and innovating
“All the people that help are elves that want to be there for those who are in need. We want to bring hope, love, and peace into their lives. Every year we are adding to our giving projects. We have a group of women crocheting hats and blankets for the babies in the neonatal wards,” Ziemkowski said. “Every year we adopt a local family in Lansing that has some medical challenges. We do surprise drive-bys with packages for the children and parents to let them know someone cares.”
The Helmets for Cody toy drive ended on December 15, with tens of thousands of dollars worth of donations and toys collected throughout Lansing, including at Starbucks, Walgreens, First Methodist Church, Doggie Style groomers, and Water’s Edge in Munster.
“This community is great. They pitch in and help where it is needed,” said Ziemkowski, a 23-year Lansing resident. “I want everyone to be encouraged to help someone however you can. When my son first got injured we didn’t know what to do. And it was a process to his recovery. But, we discovered that good came out of that journey: Helmets for Cody.”
More information about Helmets for Cody is available at facebook.com/helmetsforcody.
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