IDAHO, USA — 14-year-old Brody Gassen has always had a love for Legos. You'll often find him at Bricknowlogy in Eagle. The store is packed with every Lego set you can imagine, and it's a Lego lover's paradise.
"Sometimes I organize them, and sometimes I take them apart and build my own thing with them. I'm a builder," Brody said.
A couple of years ago, Brody got really sick, and he had to spend some time at St. Luke's Children's Hospital. His mom Cindy says it was a scary time for the whole family.
"He actually got COVID-19 and when his body was done fighting COVID. he ended up with an autoimmune disease," Brody's mom Cindy Gassen said. "He kept fighting as if COVID was still there. It damaged his bone marrow, so we ended up going in for infusions."
The Eagle boy was diagnosed with neutropenia and leukopenia, basically an abnormally low count of white blood cells. He started infusion treatment in April of 2021.
"It was tough, yeah," Brody said.
While he was at the Boise hospital getting treatment, he heard a little boy, another patient, asking about Legos.
"I just overheard him as we were leaving one day, I heard him asking if there were any Legos he hadn't played with yet," Brody said. "He was asking if there were any Lego Batman sets that he hadn't done, since he went there a lot."
Brody had an idea. He asked his mom if they could go buy some new Lego sets to donate to the hospital. He had to get that kid a Batman set, and that's how Brody's Bricks was born. Two years later, Brody and his mom run a nonprofit that gathers donated new Lego sets, and then they deliver them to the hospital, and other places where kids need a welcome distraction.
"We regularly donate to St. Luke's Children's Cancer Institute. The kids that are going through treatment can come in and pick out a Lego, and the idea is to give kids something fun to do, during their stay," Cindy said. You are creating and building. You are not thinking about the appointment, you are thinking about building something and creating something. Then, they get to take that Lego set home with them. We try to donate for all age groups, and boys and girls."
At Bricknowlogy, the Brody's Bricks donation bin is right at check out. Store owner Dean Barry says customers hear about what Brody is doing, and they are more than happy to donate a set to the cause. Barry is really proud to be a part of it all. He donates Lego sets all the time.
"We got to know the family pretty well since Brody and his brother love Lego," Barry said. "Then when Brody was sick, and he came up with this idea, this was his go to and his comfort, we thought wouldn't it be great if other people felt the same way and we could share that with them. We are just so happy to go along for the ride, and help support it."
All donations to Brody's Bricks stay in Idaho. It's something families going through a tough time don't forget.
"We get little notes from families saying thank you, and they send pictures of their kids at the hospital with their Legos," Cindy said.
Brody and his mom say this has grown into something they could have never imagined. Cindy is so proud of her son, and so proud of what this family run nonprofit has become.
"It feels really good," Cindy said.
For more information on Brody's Bricks, and how you can help, click here.
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