WESSINGTON SPRINGS-The legacy of little Jessy and his Toy Box lives on in the hearts of his friends and family.
That includes Jessy's cousin, Sarah Raterman, a freshman at Wessington Springs High School. She has been working for months to organize a event in Jessy's honor and it will take place starting at 4 p.m. today at the Wessington Springs Elementary School.
James "Jessy" Haberman was born in Wyndmere, North Dakota, with a rare genetic condition and was no stranger to hospital visits throughout his life. His parents, Jim and Heather Haberman, say Jessy was their superhero. He never complained through endless medical procedures, 15 surgeries, doctors' visits or even when he wasn't feeling good. Jessy died on Feb. 19, 2018, at age 8.
During one of his hospital stays, Jessy received a toy during an infusion. He and his family came up with the idea to start a nonprofit organization that would provide toys to children that are hospitalized, named Jessy's Toy Box.
"Jesse passed away about a year ago after his second open-heart surgery," Raterman said. "His mom Heather visited the high school in December and gave a presentation on Jessy's Toy Box and I decided to bring it to Wessington Springs."
Raterman is part of Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) chapter in Wessington Springs, which is sponsoring this event. This week is also FCCLA Week nationally, and at Wessington Springs High School.
"I decided to do a fundraiser in Jessy's honor, the Jessy's Toy Box Project," Raterman said. "It's a lot to organize, but I think doing this will hopefully bring more awareness to the cause."
Raterman has collected various items for a silent auction, like a miniature helmet autographed by C.J. Ham, who played college football at Augustana University and now plays fullback for the Minnesota Vikings.
"My math teacher flipped out when I told him about the signed helmet that we will be raffling off," Raterman said. "He is a huge sports fan."
The entire high school and members of the Wessington Springs Senior Center joined in to make blankets that will be donated to children at Sanford Children's Hospital called Castle of Care in Sioux Falls.
People who bring a new toy to the event on Tuesday will receive a raffle ticket making them eligible to win various prizes. Other items include local gift certificates, a Valentine's dinner for two, tickets for the Chanhassen Dinner Theater in suburban Minneapolis, Sioux Falls Stampede hockey tickets, and many other items.
The event will be held in conjunction with a Wessington Springs basketball doubleheader with Kimball/White Lake. At 5 p.m., there will be a soup supper, and a pretzel and hot dog bar. All proceeds of the event go towards the purchase of toys for the Jessy's Toy Box Project.