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Toy drive looks to double efforts
toy pic2
Bronze Body employee Ashley Gier places a present on the growing Bradley Pacheco toy donation box inside the tanning salon. - photo by JONATHAN MCCORKELL / The Journal

Bradley Pacheco developed meningococcal (spinal) meningitis when he was just five months old and he spent much of the rest of his life in and out of hospitals before passing away on Thanksgiving Day 2007 at eight years old.

He developed severe complications from the meningitis and although he never learned to speak, doctors say his life was an incredible teaching experience for them.

“Very few people survive meningococcal meningitis at such a young age and doctors said the complications he had following his survival helped them to learn a lot about it. He was always such a good patient and such a good teacher,” said Bradley’s mother Lisa Pires.

Over his short but powerful life he spent several holiday seasons in the hospital with his mother and family. While in the hospital Pires witnessed incredible acts of giving from a family she saw who brought in toys for sick children; it was something that stuck with her.

“It was just so touching to me as a parent that they would go out of their way to do that when no one asked them to. It was so simple but so powerful to me,” said Pires.

For the past two holidays Pires has used her tanning salon business, Bronze Body of Turlock, to promote a toy drive and replicate what had touched her emotions. The first year she collected about 100 toys at Bronze Body, and distributed them to kids at Emanuel Medical Center, Memorial Medical Center, Doctor’s Medical Center, Children’s Hospital Central California and Oak Valley Hospital. Last year that number grew to 300 with the help of Builder’s Club students from Dutcher Middle School.

This year that number will undoubtedly grow — with the help of a little friendly competition. Dutcher Builder’s Club has challenged the Turlock Junior High Builder’s Club to see which service club can gather the most toys for this worthy cause. Both clubs have pledged to double last year’s number to 600 toys. Since TJHS has nearly double the student population as Dutcher, 600 is a realistic and reachable goal.

Early on in the drive toys came streaming into Pires Bronze Body salon and she says she has never had so many presents this early before and random people who aren’t customers have been dropping off toys. Pires is grateful for the outpouring of support.

“It is just amazing that his story and life have touched so many of these students. I’m so thankful,” said Pires. “Bradley passed away on Thanksgiving and he taught so many people, including me. He taught me that there was so much in this life to be thankful for and now he is teaching these kids about doing good works. He is such a good teacher.”

The toy drive is open to the public through Dec. 19. Pires requests toys be unwrapped and suitable for children newborn to 18 years old. Indoor toys such as books, DVDs and board games are suggested items.

To contact Lisa Pires call Bronze Body at 667-5666.

To contact Jonathan McCorkell, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.