Arlington Hts. family pays back kindness at Northwest Community Hospital

When Tim Brigham and his wife Melissa wound up at Northwest Community Hospital with their 2-year-old son Dominick in October, they weren't prepared for how emotional it would be.

Just a few months earlier Melissa had lost a baby at the Arlington Heights hospital, 20 weeks into her pregnancy.

Now, Dominick had passed out in a store and was admitted with a respiratory virus that was making it difficult for him to breathe.

"We spent a few nights there listening to kids cry and scream and it was just awful," said Tim.

"It was so hard to be there again, but we built such good relationships with the nurses who are so amazing," Melissa agreed.

A few days later Dominick was on the road to recovery, but a new mission for the Brighams, of Arlington Heights, was just beginning.

"We just realized there are so many other kids stuck here and we wanted to help," Melissa said. "We decided to do a toy drive and see what happened, but it wound up being a lot bigger than we thought."

In the past month or so, the couple incorporated "Superhero Collective" a nonprofit whose mission is to bring toys and happiness to hospitalized children in the Chicago area. Together with friends and colleagues they organized fundraisers and have already collected more than 900 toys.

On Tuesday morning the Brigham family helped make the first delivery, handing out toys to children in the pediatric ward at Northwest Community Hospital.

"No child deserves to be sick. It's not their fault," Tim said. "I would love to be able to make this a little bit easier on them and their families if I can."

Sean Sullivan Jr.'s eyes widened when Tim and Dominick handed the 9-year-old from Hawthorn Woods a board game and a car toy that made noise.

"It's a very nice surprise, a nice change of pace," said his dad, Sean Sullivan Sr.

Sean Jr. was already focused on playing rather than being sick.

"I'm going to beat you," he challenged his dad of his new game 'Connect Four.'

"We didn't expect anything like this," said Arturo Gonzalez, of Arlington Heights, who was in the hospital with Betsaida Cruz and their 7-day-old baby.

Brigham and other members of Superhero Collective plan to return to NCH and other suburban hospitals on a regular basis, dressed up in superhero costumes to deliver toys and even just spend time with sick kids to brighten their days.

"However we can help children, that's the idea," Tim said.

Dominick, who will turn 3 on Saturday, wore a Superman sweatshirt and cape to help give toys to children and their parents on Tuesday. His parents said he understood the huge pile of toys at their house wasn't for him, but to give to other sick kids this holiday season.

"We feel blessed and grateful and we just want to give back, and teach Dominick to do the same," Melissa said.

"I think our role as parents is to teach kids what life is all about," Tim said. "And delivering toys to sick kids at Christmas, that's it."

  Sean Sullivan, 9, of Hawthorn Woods, reacts with excitement to his new toys. Joe Lewnard/
  Dominick Brigham, 3, helps the "superhero collective" deliver toys to children at Northwest Community Hospital. Joe Lewnard/
  Dominick Brigham, was hospitalized himself recently. Joe Lewnard/
  Tim Brigham leaves a game and a car toy with Sean Sullivan, of Hawthorn Woods. Joe Lewnard/
  Tim Brigham of Arlington Heights sorts gifts in an empty room prior to distributing them Tuesday. Joe Lewnard/
  Dominick Brigham, 3, held by his mom, Melissa, helps deliver gifts to children at Northwest Community Hospital Tuesday. Joe Lewnard/
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