When he first heard about Shriners Hospitals for Children — St. Louis, Tom was toiling as an undersized 6-foot-tall center on the Odin (Illinois) High School basketball team trying – mostly unsuccessfully – to guard the other teams’ behemoth big men.
His coach organized a fundraiser to purchase toys for the hospital’s child life department. The coach’s wife took the money raised from selling discount cards, T-shirts and baked goods, bought toys and loaded the boys up on a bus to come to the hospital to meet the kids.
“When you’re in high school, you think of it as a free day out of school,” said Tom, who graduated in 2007. “Now, I realize that it really means so much more.”