Peoria Police officers bring gifts, joy to children spending the holidays in the hospital

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PEORIA, Ill. — “This is like the coolest Nerf rifle they got, and these are the best wireless headphones you can get. This is so awesome, I’m so happy,” said Jonathan Godlewski.

Godlewski is staying at the Peoria Ronald McDonald House battling leukemia.

For many, the holidays are spent at home with family. But for children like Godlewski, that’s not always a possibility.

Instead of being home, many kids across central Illinois are spending the holidays in a hospital room.

On Tuesday, two Peoria Police officers went to the Ronald McDonald House, Children’s Hospital of Illinois, and Almost Home Kids to bring Christmas to those who can’t be home.

Godlewski is a huge Star Wars fan, he says A New Hope is his favorite episode, he said getting these gifts brought him an incredible amount of joy.

“All the people here, around me, and the officers are such nice people. It’s really inspiring to see all the nice people around here,” Godlewski said.

Jonathan was given a top of the line Nerf rifle and some beats Headphones. He says he can’t wait to use the headphones to listen to Pink Floyd and watch horror movies.

Danny Marx and Brett Lawrence are the Peoria Police officers who visited the three locations. Marx says these kids’ smiles bring so much joy to everyone around them.

“A lot of these kids will never see the outside of the hospital. They’re not like every other kid, outside playing, they’re stuck in a hospital. The chance to put a smile on their face, it means the world,” Marx said.

Lawrence says just one smile, by one child, can light up an entire room.

“Just coming here and seeing one kid, and what we did make a difference to him, is something I can’t describe. It’s pretty emotional. The hair on my arms is still standing up,” Lawrence said.

Both men said their favorite part of the experience was getting to spend time with the kids and see their smiles.

“The smiles on these kids faces, to make them feel like they’re special because really they’re amazing people in our world,” Marx said.

“Just the reaction Jonathan gave, that’s why we do it. One hundred percent,” Lawrence said.

Godlewski says he has ten days left at the Ronald McDonald House before heading to OSF for three months before returning to St. Jude in Memphis for a bone marrow transplant.

He hopes once he’s out of the hospital for a short period of time, that he can go see the Rise of Skywalker in theaters.

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