12-Year-Old Plans May 7 Event to Give Toys to Hospitalized Children

Last fall, Noelle’s charity donated more than 1,300 items to Elliot Hospital in Salem, N.H.

Laps4Backs, a charity donating toys to hospitalized children and operated by a 12-year-old Haverhill girl, is having an all-smiles fundraiser Sunday, May 7.

Noelle Gregoire, who has suffered with a rare, degenerative and congenital back disease since she was 5 years old, found her spirits were lifted when she received a toy after particularly difficult treatments at Tufts Hospital, Boston. She began the charity though when she discovered a shortage of donated toys meant other children would have to go without the little, uplifting rewards.

At 9 years old, she began Laps4Backs, swimming across Province Lake in East Wakefield, N.H., to raise money for toys. Since then, she has donated more than 20,000 toys to hospitalized children.

In 2015, Noelle had to undergo spine reconstruction surgery. Not knowing if she would be able to swim the following summer, he mom said, a fundraising event took place so she could continue raising money and bringing toys to the hospitals.

“Despite the difficulty, she managed to swim across 1.5 miles across the lake eight months after surgery.”

There were tough times ahead for Noelle. Deteriorating conditions robbed her of the ability to walk, never mind swim, by the end of 2015. Last year, after spinal surgery, she had to learn to walk all over again.

Her fundraiser takes place Sunday, May 7, from 2 to 5 p.m., at AmVets Hall, 576 Primrose St. The entry fee is a toy or $5. The event features music, dancing, crafts, face painting, a photo booth and raffles.

For more information, visit laps4backs.org.