By: Jacquie Slater
(WTNH) — Eleven-year-old Matt Gagliardi is paying it forward this holiday season. The sixth grader from Madison has spent the last three months taping hockey sticks for tips, with the plan to use all of the money to purchase toys for Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital’s Toy Closet.
“Kids games, men’s league games and my older brothers’ games, stuff like that,” said Matt.
On Wednesday Matt delivered the toys to the hospital. His journey to this day, however, began back in February of 2015. Matt began having seizures and spent ten days as a patient at Yale himself. Three MRI’s, lots of tests and one Lego set later, Matt was diagnosed with epilepsy.
“It felt nice getting a toy at the hospital because then I had something to do after my procedure and I liked it so I’m thankful for it,” said Matt.
Matt’s stick taping mission spread through social media. Coaches and teams began asking for him to tape at their games. In all Matt raised $1,700.
“I’m so proud of him. Obviously the shopping was the fun part, but he did all the hard work, taping those sticks and weekends going to games and sitting in cold rinks,” said Tara Courtmanche, Matt’s mother.
Every pediatric patient at Yale receives a toy from the toy closet. Yale staff says the probably hand out more then 150,000 toys a year. As Matt delivered the toys, volunteers staffing the Closet were thrilled by his generosity.
“These are toys that are special because these are toys he picked out and these are the toys that kids are gonna like. If Matt liked them enough to buy them, kids are gonna love them,” said Maureen Herbert, Co-chair of the Toy Closet.
Since he was discharged Matt has remained seizure free. He’s thinking about making his stick taping fundraiser a yearly tradition.
“It feels really good cause giving back to those children in the hospital feels really good cause it’s a good thing to do,” said Matt.
“I”m so glad we did it because we both had this overwhelming, I think, need to give back after he was in the hospital and we were so thankful that he was okay,” said Courtmanche.
News 8’s Jacquie Slater wrote and reported this story. Matt is her cousin and she is very proud of his efforts!