WATERFORD — Vance Wilks knows it’s no fun being stuck in a hospital.
In the spring of 2014, when he was 7 years old, the seizures Vance was having led doctors to discover he had a benign brain tumor. The Waterford boy ended up spending time at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in Wauwatosa.
He only spent a few days in the hospital while having the tumor removed, but while he was there he noticed something that troubled him – there wasn’t a lot for the children, especially those in neurology wing, to do.
Deciding he needed to fix the situation, he approached his parents to see how he could get toys for the kids there.
It wasn’t long before his father and he settled on the idea of having a toy drive at Brown Lake Golf Course — one of two golf courses his dad and a partner manage for Racine County.
Last year the effort, dubbed Vance’s Toy Voyage, netted more than 400 toys and $800 for children at the hospital.
This year, at least 600 toys and about $500 have been donated, his mother Amanda Wilks said, and there is still a week left to donate.
On Friday, Vance stood surrounded by the mountain of toys dropped off at the clubhouse of the course at 932 Browns Lake Drive in Burlington. Asked how it felt to see all the toys people had donated for kids at the hospital this year, the 8-year-old said: “Pretty good.”
When Vance’s parents asked him on Sept. 1 if he wanted to do the toy drive again, he said yes, Amanda Wilks said.
That was less than two weeks before the family learned that Vance’s tumor, the primary ganglioglioma that doctors had removed last June, was recurring.
For now, the family and Vance’s doctors are watching the tumor, she said. When it’s big enough to be removed again Vance will have another surgery.
“When they first removed it was the size of a golf ball. Now it’s the size of a pea. If you go in and it’s too small and you miss again you are going to be going in for yet another surgery,” Amanda Wilks said.
If there is one thing the recurrence has made clear, said Chad Wilks, it is that the family will be doing the toy drive for a while.
Vance takes anti-convulsion medications, but otherwise he is normal kid, his mom said.
“He goes to school. He functions well. He had a little bit of a peripheral vision loss (from the first surgery), but there was no cognitive loss,” she said.
“He’s got a smooth little golf swing.”