Tyler’s Toyz: Local boy’s legacy lives on through donations of stuffed animals

(ROCKWALL/ROWLETT, TX – Nov. 25, 2019) Donations of new stuffed animals – in all colors, shapes and sizes – are needed to help reach a goal of 5,000 plush toys for delivery to young patients at Children’s Medical Center of Dallas – all in honor of a local boy named Tyler Ray Zapotocky, who died just 32 minutes after birth. Tyler’s legacy lives on through Tyler’s Toyz, created by his parents, Adam and Whitney Zapotocky.

Stuffed animals may be mailed to Tyler’s Toyz, PO Box 883, Rowlett, TX 75030, or dropped off Monday through Friday during business hours at NutriService, 108 W. Interurban Street in Rockwall. Additional drop-off locations are being confirmed.

4,276 stuffed animals collected in 2018 for Children’s Medical Center Dallas. Courtesy photo.

Utley Middle School is also heading up donation efforts for the second year in a row. Utley’s National Junior Honor Society collected the organization’s largest single donation last year (390 stuffed animals! Cain Middle School Student Council is also hosting a donation campaign this year.

Due to many of the patients having compromised immune systems, the hospital requires that stuffed animals be new and not used.

Tyler’s Story

Tyler’s parents shared the following in hopes of reaching their goal of putting plush toys into the hands of 5,000 hospitalized children, as a way to share Tyler’s story and carry on his legacy:

“On June 5, 2014, we went in for a routine 20 week ultrasound, anxiously awaiting to find out if we should prepare to welcome a little boy or girl in the fall. Instead, we learned there was a problem with our pregnancy, and a fetal MRI later confirmed the absence of both kidneys.

Specialists confirmed the Potters Sequence was present… a diagnosis that would be fatal. The realization began to sink in that our first born would not be coming home with us.

Later, we met with a pediatric specialist to discuss what would happen if our baby was born alive. The possibility of organ donation came to light, and the teams at UT Southwestern Hospital and Southwest Transplant Alliance worked tirelessly to explore the legalities and logistics of being the first neonatal organ donor experience for both organizations. Months later, as fate would have it, we met with STA and signed the paperwork on our due date to make this a reality.

Tyler Ray Zapotocky was born November 5, 2014 at 11:29am. He spent his entire life heart-to-heart with Whitney, surrounded by those who loved him most. He passed away 32 minutes later at 12:01pm, only knowing love and family his entire life. Shortly after, his liver was procured and over 2.6 billion liver enzymes were extracted; the most ever collected from a single donor!

Although no match was found, critical research was conducted using Tyler’s enzymes in hopes of prolonging the lives of other sick babies until they could receive a liver transplant.”

Tyler’s Legacy

“We were so well loved and supported during the most difficult time in our lives, we wanted a way to pass on the love to other families and their kiddos in the toughest of times. In lieu of flowers, we asked friends and family to bring stuffed animals to Tyler’s funeral the following Saturday. This is where it all began,” said Adam, Tyler’s dad. 

“Every time a child patient arrives by ambulance, has a surgery, or celebrates a birthday, they receive a stuffed animal from the staff. It is our hope and our dream to fulfill the need for EVERY stuffed animal handed out for years to come. Just before Christmas of 2014, we delivered approximately 250 stuffed animals to Children’s Medical Center in Dallas in Tyler’s name. We have continued this legacy of giving every year since, through Tyler’s Toyz, with over 10,600 stuffed animals donated to Children’s Dallas to date.”

“Following our 2018 donation of 4,276 stuffed animals, we set our goal for this year at 5,000. That is FIVE THOUSAND kids who will receive a furry friend donated by YOU. Our hope is to share Tyler’s story and legacy for many years to come… and we hope you will help us.”

To learn more, visit Tyler’s Toyz on Facebook.

By Dawn Redig, Blue Ribbon News. Courtesy photos used with permission. 

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