CLIVE, Iowa — Christmas is still months away, but one family is celebrating in a big way Friday with toys, a tree, even Santa. This is the third annual Princess Camryn’s Christmas in July, but the celebration will be very different this year.
The Storbeck family started the summer party two years ago while their daughter Camryn was battling neuroblastoma, a pediatric cancer. Paul Storbeck says, “We’re like, you know what, there are so many children with life threatening conditions, illnesses, injuries that are in the hospital during the summer.”
The goal is to collect toys for Blank Children’s Hospital’s Child Life Program and practical items for the group Kids Living Brave’s brave baskets. The event has grown each year and it doesn’t appear to stop anytime soon. Jen Storbeck says, “We will do this as long as we can. This is like, we did it with Camryn, we’ll do it again.”
Camryn suddenly passed away this April, but the family knew they’d continue the event she enjoyed so much. Paul says, “We want to carry on Camryn’s legacy and memory through doing events like this and continuing events like this.”
The Storbecks hope to collect items on the wish lists of Blank Children’s Hospital Child Life and Kids Living Brave. Jen says some of the most needed items include, “Fine motor skills for small children. They always have new release movies they’d like to have. A lot of times they have a hard time getting toys or funds for some of the older kids.”
In addition to the toys, the items they really need are simple things, like crayons. Paul says, “Any items that cannot be sanitized have to go with the child or be discarded. So, there’s a lot of turnover with these items.”
People have already donated a table full of toys, and the Storbecks hope to collect even more in memory of their daughter. Jen says, “This was such a big deal for her. Last year, she got to buy a special new dress, and she had a princess crown, and she was so excited having her face painted.”
Paul says, “She was ecstatic, she thoroughly enjoyed being a part of the event, but she didn’t want to be in the spotlight, so she’s definitely smiling down on us.”
The Christmas in July celebration is Friday, July 18th from 5 to 10 p.m. at 1941 NW 81st Street in Clive. The Clive Fire Department will be there with Santa along with a princess from Little Princess Parties. You can send donations in Camryn’s name to Blank Children’s Hospital or Kids Living Brave.
Click below to watch two other stories feature Camryn Storbeck’s journey.