PDT Staff Writer
It all started with the need for a toy to calm one frightened child in the King's Daughters Medical Center Emergency Department.
Now nearly three years later, after many visits, big rig driver Oakley Gillispie of Greenup, Ky. has delivered 2,500 new stuffed animals to KDMC.
It seems that while Gillispie was visiting the Emergency Department with his own son, he overheard a nurse wishing she had something to give a frightened and crying child.
That's when Gillispie knew he could make a difference, so the first time he visited KDMC, he donated 98 stuffed toys and he has never looked back.
Since truck drivers are required by law to take breaks from driving, the natural thing to do is hang out at truck stops as he travels the states of Indiana, Illinois and Iowa.
Gillispie admits that he is good at playing the claw machine, a game where the challenge is to snatch stuffed animals from a pile during an allotted time.
Betsy Donahue of the KDMC Public Relations/Marketing Team said there is something inspiring about seeing a very large 18-wheeler pull up near the Emergency Department entrance, and to watch the driver climb down with a bag of stuffed animals for the children inside the hospital.
"The staff gets so excited when Oakley's truck pulls up," said Rita Burgess, a patient representative. "A stuffed animal might seem so small, but it's a big deal to these children."
"Truck drivers often take a bad rap," Gillispie said. "But there are thousands of drivers that take part in charitable projects."
Many of the employees consider Gillispie KDMC's, "very own Santa Claus."
It has been said dozens of times -- it's the small things in life that make such a big difference. Just ask truck driver Oakley Gillispie and the children at KDMC.