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Olympic Gold Medalist Delivers Gifts at UVA Children's Hospital - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Olympic Gold Medalist Delivers Gifts at UVA Children's Hospital

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Patients at the University of Virginia Children's Hospital got a little surprise Tuesday afternoon.  An Olympic gold medalist handed out the gifts, hoping to brighten their day in the name of a special foundation.

Olympic gold medal swimmer Matt McLean delivered Jessie's JoyJars, jars filled with 15-20 age appropriate toys, to sick children at the hospital.  He distributed the gifts from a wagon overflowing with names.

"It's just very rewarding to see these kids get these jars and hopefully it does brighten up their day," McLean said.

The jars are a part of the Jessie Rees Foundation. Rees was also a swimmer and lived by the motto "Never Ever Give Up" – a phrase adopted by the foundation in her name.  Rees started distributing the JoyJars herself in 2011 during her fight against brain cancer. She lost her battle in January 2012, but her strength and spirit live on through the foundation.

McLean said, "Before she passed away she made it her mission to spread joy and love to every kid in the world fighting cancer using these jars."

Five-year-old Izzy Stover received a JoyJar Tuesday, filled with goods like a stuffed animal and a slinky.  Izzy was diagnosed with leukemia two years ago.  She checked into the UVA Children's Hospital Monday night for an unexpected visit.

Sarah Stover, Izzy's mom, said, "She had gotten sick yesterday so whenever she would acquire a fever or anything, they would require you sometimes to be in the hospital just for antibiotics and IV fluids."

The jar of toys made Izzy's visit a little more comfortable, and brought a big smile to her face.

"Just receiving a present really makes her feel special and something to look forward to because she doesn't really get out much or do much so it's great that they're able to do that," Sarah said.

Volunteers are distributing Jessie's JoyJars at more than 200 children's hospitals in the country.  Around 45,000 jars have been delivered in Jessie's name.

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