Dalayne Delivers Love
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Dalayne Adkinson smiles as she rubs her toy elephant “Ellie” across her cheek. The 8-year-old beauty queen from Clarkesville said she has had the stuffed animal since she was a baby and it’s always made her feel better. Toys can do that.
Dalayne has raised hundreds of dollars to buy toys to help make children with cancer feel better through the organization she founded two years ago called “Dalayne Delivers Love.”
And just like the name says, Dalayne delivers the toys to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite just in time for the holidays.
“It feels good that I’m doing something for other kids and not just me for a change,” the third-grader said.
Diane Vaughan, senior development officer for Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, said Dalayne’s gifts have made a big difference in the lives and treatment of patients at the center.
“This displays a lot of maturity in our minds because for an 8-year-old to realize she can help give back is pretty impressive,” Vaughan said. “She chose and did this all on her own. She has given to us the last two years and she provides toys, but it’s more than just a toy.”
Vaughan said most people think the donated toys are given away at Christmas time. But the gifts are used all year long to provide encouragement, distraction and diversion by Child Life Specialists, professionals who help their young patients learn about, and how to cope with, their illness.
“Maybe it’s something that, that child really likes, like a Barbie, a video game, or some Legos,” Vaughan said. “Then (child life specialists) can say someone donated this toy, let’s get through this procedure and Barbie is yours. Sometimes the toys can provide distractions like a video game. I’ve actually seen one of the child life specialists play a video game with a patient while the child was having a bone marrow aspiration. They use these toys to provide encouragement to get through a procedure or to provide distractions.”
Vaughan said it’s a “dream come true” to see children like Dalayne get involved with philanthropy. The center has a “Generous Generation” program geared toward encouraging philanthropy in children.
“I’m counting on her,” Vaughan said. “When she’s Miss America one day, she will be a philanthropist and still give back.”
Dalayne started her organization after learning about the charitable efforts of other beauty pageant contestants. While laying in bed with her grandmother Dana Adkinson-Godfrey one evening eating gummy bears and shopping for pageant shoes online, the two noticed a lot of beauty queens were involved in charity work. Dalayne knew she wanted to do something good for other people, too, and knew exactly who she wanted to help.
“I started this organization because I had a friend with cancer named Christian,” Dalayne said. “He passed away. He’s not living anymore. But I started this organization because of him.
“I gave him the first toy from the Lego company to him. He’s a Lego enthusiast. He built a bunch of stuff.”
In the first year, Dalayne raised more than $480 and received Lego sets from the Lego Company after writing to the company about her organization. So far this year, she’s raised more than $620.
“To an 8-year-old kid, $600 might as well be a million,” Dana said, beaming at her granddaughter.
In her free time on the weekends, Dalayne mans a booth at the Mountain Laurel Antique Mall on Friendship Road in Cleveland. As soon as she gets there with her grandmother, Dalayne sets up her booth with signs that read “Ask me” and a jar to hold monetary donations.
People often follow the sign’s direction and ask Dalayne what she’s raising money for.
“Sometimes it’s hard to explain,” Dalayne said, looking down at her feet then to her grandmother for the answer.
Dana smiled and told her granddaughter to try explaining.
“I like to touch kids’ hearts. I don’t want to leave them alone like some other kids do,” Dalayne said. “They get toys and sometimes they’re just stingy and keep them. But I like to get toys and give them to kids not just me.”
Dalayne’s voice gets louder as she excitedly recalls the “car load” of toys she delivered to the hospital last year.
“I collected a bunch of toys and even gave away one of the Monster High Dolls that I wanted to one of the kids,” Dalayne said. “I am a collector of Monster High Dolls. They’re like my life.”
Though she’s only in the third grade at White County Intermediate School, Dalayne “kinda” knows what she wants to do with her life. She wants to be a veterinarian for large animals at a zoo or maybe a marine biologist after she wins the Miss America crown.
“One day I want to be Miss America,” Dalayne said. “If I were Miss America I would keep collecting money for kids. Even though when I’m older, I might forget about it a lot but I still want to keep doing it. I hope I never forget.”