DETROIT – A father is honoring his son’s memory by delivering hundreds of stuffed animals to the hospitals where his son was treated for cancer.
Brayden Andrews was 12 years old when he was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in 2017.
“He fought it all the way until the end and never lost his smile,” said Jake Andrews, Brayden’s father.
Brayden died in 2018, at 13 years old, before the holidays. His favorite holiday was Christmas.
“When you lose a child to cancer, it’s hard to understand why. Especially with such a good soul, and it’s like, ‘Why did it happen to him?’” said Jake.
Jake said his son was dedicated to giving to others and a well-rounded kid.
“Brayden was a great kid. He loved to fish, and he was just kind to everybody,” said Jake.
Before his passing, he gave his mother a special gift for Christmas.
“He gave her a picture of a mama elephant with a baby elephant. When he gave it to her, he said, ‘This is you protecting me, mom,’” said Jake.
And ever since, the family has cherished the photo and the meaning behind it.
“It still hangs over our bed to this day, and now we have elephants all over our house,” said Jake.
The family’s story was shared on Facebook after Jake posted about wanting to purchase an “elephant” table in Minnesota. He found the table at a second-hand store, and was unable to place it on hold until he could get there to pick it up.
"I posted about the table on the page ‘Weird Second Hand Finds That Just Need To Be Shared.’ People started responding from all over. It launched a page called “The Great Elephant Expedition.”
“[People said] ‘let’s get the guy the table. Let’s get the elephant home,’ and just like that it turned into ‘I can drive it this far.’ The people strapped it [the elephant table] in a seat belt, and they passed it from woman to woman, and it was delivered all the way to my front door in Oxford, 753 miles,” said Jake.
The generosity of others did not end there. People started donating to the Andrews family.
“People from all over the world just started donating money, and sending my wife elephants to the P.O. box.,” said Jake.
The family decided to donate the hundreds of stuffed animals to the hospitals where Brayden was treated for cancer to comfort other kids in difficult situations.
“I’m going to keep doing it until I can’t. In life he changed the world for everybody he met, but in his death, he’s still changing the world. It keeps his spirit alive at Christmas,” said Jake.
Jake and his family want to continue delivering stuffed animals to hospitals even after the holidays to honor Brayden.