Suburban Chicago family donating 325 Easter baskets to kids in hospitals

A suburban Chicago mom and dad whose son is coping with a serious illness are packing Easter baskets to help spread joy to other children in hospitals.

Axel Johnson of Montgomery has cytomegalovirus (CMV), a common virus that usually does not cause serious health problems. However, in some people, it can be devastating. Axel has spent a lot of time in hospitals, and his parents are committed to making life easier for other families facing serious medical challenges.

"A couple years back, we were in a situation where we were in the hospital with Axel, and somebody else came up and gave us these baskets, and that gave us a lot of hope in the hospital, and gave us the push to do it ourselves," Adam Johnson said.

Axel's family started putting together Easter baskets four years ago. Their first year, they gave 100 baskets to patients at Rush University Medical Center. In 2021, they donated 318 baskets to Rush, University of Illinois-Chicago, Comer Childrens Hospital, and Central DuPage Hospital. Their goal this year is 325 baskets.

"When holidays come up and they're in a hospital, and [parents] may feel guilty. I felt guilty for not being able to provide those [traditional holiday] experiences to our son," said Andrea Stambaugh.

Axel's family plans to drop off the baskets on April 3 so that they can sit in isolation for two weeks before being delivered to patients.

If you would like to learn more about the project and find out how to donate, you can visit the family's Facebook page, Axel's Journey with CMV.