Whether that passion is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Disney princesses, if you’re a kid in the hospital, Noah Wilson knew that bandages matter. And they should be fun.
The 7-year-old passed away in 2015, but the project he started has grown enormously in the intervening years.
This month, the Olathe School District held its annual collection drive for Noah’s Bandage Project. The district holds a drive every September in Noah’s memory and over the years has collected more than 24,000 boxes of bandages and raised more than $9,000.
Noah was a student at Prairie Center Elementary when he died. Natalie DeWeese, currently principal of Walnut Grove Elementary, was principal at Prairie Center when Noah attended school.
“I think the biggest thing is that it all started from one incredibly sweet, kind, caring little 7-year-old boy, but it has turned into all of Olathe coming together to help carry on what he started,” DeWeese said.
Although there isn’t a tally yet of this year’s total donations across the district, DeWeese said Walnut Grove collected more than 900 boxes. She’s seen all kinds of designs on the bandages, from Minions to strips of bacon.
It all began when Noah was undergoing cancer treatment at Children’s Mercy Hospital.
“He found himself going through treatment covered in brown Band-Aids. He asked if they had Leonardo Band-Aids, and they didn’t. It took off from there,” said Scott Wilson, Noah’s father. “To him, a Band-Aid was a whole lot more than a Band-Aid. It was a badge of courage.”
One of the earliest major supporters of the project was former Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer. A few months after Noah and his dad tweeted a photo of the birthday sign to him, Hosmer came and visited Noah in the hospital.
After spending an hour and a half with Noah, Hosmer became a supporter of Noah and his project. Later, Royals pitcher Danny Duffy also became a huge supporter, donating $500 for each strike-out he made one year, then $1,000 the next.
This month, Duffy donated $100,000, and Royals Charities added another $10,000. When Noah’s Bandage Project receives cash donations, the Wilsons direct that money to pediatric cancer research at Children’s Mercy. In total, they’ve been able to give about $700,000.
The support from the Royals meant a lot to Noah, who was able to attend all the 2014 World Series home games after an internet campaign a friend started to raise money to get him tickets caught Yankee’s manager Joe Torre’s eye.
People all over the world now do bandage drives and either send the bandages to Noah’s Bandage Project or get help from them to find a hospital location where they can bring the donations.
Wilson said that when anyone approaches him about having a bandage drive, he gives them posters and helps them set up the logistics.
In addition to hospitals, the colorful bandages have also gone to children in disaster zones. Wilson said a medical mission to Africa had taken 1,000 boxes with them.
“What we learned from him is it doesn’t matter how old or young you are, by being kind, you can have a huge impact on the world,” Wilson said. “That’s what we loved so much about our little boy. He was fighting his own fight and thinking about others.”