Family of boy who died of brain-eating amoeba hosts annual gift giveaway
'What they're doing is a beautiful, beautiful thing.'
ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. – The parents of an 11-year-old Florida boy who died of a brain-eating amoeba said more than 300 children received Christmas presents in his name Sunday.
Jordan's Sporting Goods Store, a two-day event, honored Jordan Smelski's memory by giving gifts to children in need. Steve and Michelle Smelski said their son wanted every child to have gifts on Christmas, which is why they've set up the pop-up storefront.
"As far as collections this year, this is the best year we've ever had. We've had a lot of collections and it's been awesome," Steve Smelski said.
Every Christmas, the store is filled with new and gently used sporting equipment, along with all types of bikes. There's also a special visit from Santa Claus.
"I'm going to tell him all about me and what I want for Christmas," 9-year-old A.J. said.
The children also decorated ornaments to hang on the Christmas tree and wrote thank-you notes to Jordan.
"We sit down on Christmas morning and we open those up and read them, so it helps us get through the holiday," Michelle Smelski said.
The two-day event also means a lot to Central Florida families, and many return year after year.
"It means a lot to basically give my family a Christmas that they deserve. It means a lot," one parent said. "What they're doing is a beautiful, beautiful thing. I can't imagine something like that, but for something like this to come out of it, it's amazing. It's amazing."
Since his death, Jordan's parents have created The Jordan Smelski Foundation for Amoeba Awareness, and they have made it their goal to give back to the community. Monetary donations are also accepted at www.jordansmelskifoundation.org.
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