Photo: Volunteers prepare to deliver a stretcher full of toys to patients visiting the emergency room at Baylor Scott & White Hospital./Courtesy photo
For nearly 20 years, Eddie and Brian’s Way has been providing toys and stuffed animals for children in the emergency room at Baylor Scott & White Hospital in Irving.
The idea began in 1998, when Linda Sloss lost her son, Brian, in a car accident. Brian’s birthday fell on December 22, three days before Christmas. Linda and her husband were trying to find a way to make it through that difficult first year, and decided that they would collect some toys and teddy bears for the Irving Hospital, known today as Baylor Scott & White.
“We took a small box, maybe eight to ten stuffed animals, to the ER and left it with them,” Linda said. “We also went down to the courthouse and set [Brian’s Way] up as a legal charity, so anyone who donated money could take it off their income tax.”
Later, in 2001 Linda’s husband Eddie also passed away, and the charity was renamed ‘Eddie & Brian’s Way.’ But the charity still continued its mission to deliver toys to children in the emergency room at Christmas.
Linda chose Baylor Scott & White because she and her family grew up in Irving, and Brian and Eddie both received treatment there. She reached out to other hospitals in the DFW area as well, but in the end, decided to support her local hospital.
“We thought, what better place than our local hospital that had treated us through the years and taken care of our family?” Linda said. She has since relocated to Comanche, OK.
Carolyn Gordon, the Irving representative for Eddie & Brian’s Way, has been with the charity since the beginning. She was a close family friend of both Eddie and Brian and was happy to help honor their memory and their service to the community.
“[Eddie and Brian] both loved helping people, and they were both involved with the community hospital,” Gordon said. “We thought this would be a good way to honor them: by creating a group that would collect stuffed animals and bring them up to the ER to help people and make them feel better.”
Linda will be returning to Baylor Scott & White in January to drop off toys that did not get delivered in December, because of mechanical issues.
Last year, 2016, was the biggest year Eddie & Brian’s Way ever had for donations. The charity collected toys from not only Irving, but also from Linda’s home in Oklahoma. Although Linda did not have a total for the number of toys delivered, she said there were enough bags of toys to fill up two large hospital stretchers. Linda also added that any and all monetary donations to Eddie & Brian’s Way go straight to the charity.
Barbara Klausing is the director for the emergency department of Baylor Scott & White. She has been working with Eddie & Brian’s Way for nearly 10 years. Every year the group meets in the waiting room of the emergency department and goes around to the rooms asking the families if they can give a toy or a stuffed animal to the patient inside.
Klausing said that the toys are not only for children, but some of the seniors as well. The event is extremely beneficial, not just to the hospital and the volunteers, but to the many children who are in the Baylor Scott & White emergency room at Christmas.
“Even though we are a big ER, we do not have an in-patient pediatric unit,” Klausing said. “Our volume can be as much as 30 percent children just because of the community we serve. There are really a lot of kids out there who benefit from this.”
Next year will be the 20th anniversary of the Eddie & Brian’s Way toy drive. While Linda plans on doing another toy drive, she looks forward to turning over much of the charity’s operations to her daughter Dana Sloss-McQuinn, who is the co-chair of Eddie & Brian’s Way.