I'm a journalist for a weekly local magazine. I explore people's unique hobbies. The editors revealed that his son who collects stamps requested to go to the hobbies convention next week. I proposed to the editor perchance I'll encounter unconventional hobbies. Strolling past some stations there were a lot of conventional hobbies such as stamps, toy trucks, and rocks. In this situation, it would thrill me pardon the pun a diamond in the rough. Something caught my eye, something was flashing it was a giant flat-screen TV 81 inches (ca. 2.06 m) this certainly piqued my attention.it was engaging the exhibition on the TV displaying a collection of toys stuffed animals photo grafted in diverse local all around the world. Yes! My diamond in the rough. At the outset, it was the same teddy bear traveling each state edited to make the toy sitting on the top of a pyramid lounging by a pool walking a dog and in a seaside resort, then-new toys were displayed. Something compelled me to search out the collector looking at the center's map. Her name is Conney Mar. I found her while leading a presentation to a group of students she began telling how this started as a class project to complete her degree in photography. During the intermission, I introduced myself as a journalist to uncover different unique hobbies. Conney is from Montana, this being her first trip to New York. There is a local coffee lounge near the convention center. I often use it for interviews. I inquired if I could interview her that evening she was totally astounded by the request. I explained wanting to discover unique hobbies, so I could write about her hobby for the magazine which I work. We ordered a lite dinner. I couldn't contain my curiosity waiting to learn about this hobby. Conney told me the story started as a final project for advanced class photography who are contemplating a full professional job in photography. The University of Montana offered the course on-line Conney started describing the project. Her project partner lives in Texas by using Zoom to bring their idea to life. Conney has an immense collection of stuffed animals, as did her project partner. At the outset just exchanged the toys with each other they would each take pictures of the toys in a comical location. The project partner mentioned to her friend about this awesome project as a result, she wanted to join the group Conney needed permission. She asked her professor for permission to add partners. She received special approval to add other partners than that friend reported to her sister who lived in Hamburg Germany she collected miniature purple dump trucks. The group exchanged the toys with each other, each taking pictures of the toys in silly and serious places where each lived. Conney told me she was the person who edited, putting the project together, and traveling with the presentation. Conney joked the project soon took on a life of its own. She had a hundred of pictures that were from throughout the United States, Europe. Conney had a tough time choosing the photo to put in the project. They took pictures at the bus station on ski trips every place anyone could dream. The project earned all the partners earned a mention in the credits. Conney said it was the most fantastic time working with her partners and the project she started this as a hobby making slide shows for friends. Her roommate studying nursing also volunteered at the local children's hospital heard about the project while watching Conney working on the project. She suggested doing this for ill children. Conney thought what a great way to put a smile on an ill child's face. Conney presented the idea to the hospital board of directors. She applied for grants quickly received the board's permission they approved The grant to start the project. She also got the children their parents about the project that would never cost them anything.
The child had a choice of the type of stuff toy they liked so the toy adventure then began. Each day the child received a raw day's photos along with an E post. Many of these children would never travel now through the marvels of technology the children could take a vacation virtually along with their toys. Conney recalled a child's story. A young girl chooses a unicorn, the toy traveled to most of the fifty states. The Child's parents called updating her on the child's condition was failing. Conney had the toy FedEx back to her and brought it to the child as she gave the toy to the child, whispering to Conney that when she arrived in heaven, my unicorn will tell me all about her trip. Conney said she hugged the mother and started home. The hospital was about a half-hour from the apartment when she opened the door she noticed the flashing message button on her landline. The parents had left a message that the child had died. She sat down and cried. Later that week, the child's mother called Conney to retell what her child said after she had left. It was in a low weak voice "Mommy, I can't wait for my unicorn to share her stories of the places and people she met while on her vacation." The mother said she had this magnificent smile glow on her face hugging the toy she closed her eyes.
This is really when she made this a hobby to send children's toys on an adventure to know the families, and the children found comfort to see a radiant smile on an ill child's face. As people learned of her hobby, people called email offered to cover the cost for the ill children video, she always made herself a promise she would never charge the families for the video. The people requested the video for their children and grandchildren as a gift to celebrate a marked occasion. They said they would pay for her time and to cover the cost. Conney did a few paid videos but her principal focus was to continue to provide the ill child's toy's trip with no cost for the family. She told me she would never ask for money no matter what. Conney informed me that a camera company learned about her hobbies just before leaving for New York. The vice president of project research offered a paid position at the company to do this on a larger scale. She told me of the type of toys families and children sent ranging from a small stuff toy spider to a large T-Rex. Conney reminded me she would continue on her own at her home to make the ill children's video. I thank her for sharing her story and sharing her time and talent with others. Feeling this surge of inspiration, I went directly to my office, starting the draft of the column. The column title "Oh Where Oh Where Did My Stuff Toy Travel."
There was such a substantial amount of information it suddenly became a featured article in the magazine. Conney emailed me several months later, telling me people continued to want to donate to cover the cost of the ill children's video. I'm good to my word she continued to have them donate to the hospital fund that helps families with travel bills housing. She continued to make the ill child toy stories, covering the cost of her own funds and still working on it at home workshop. She told me the staff she supervised at the company did the paying customers' orders.
I felt the need to write back by snail mail to congratulate her for sharing her hobby and a newfound job well-done girl. My co-workers to my surprise collected a thousand dollars to go to the hospital helping fund. I'll admit I'm still uncomfortable with office fund collections, but for this putting a smile on a child's face who rarely has a reason to smile, I had no further reservation about this collection.
Last year, Conney's parents called me with devastating news. While shopping for supplies for a new video, a drunk driver killed Conney. They told me they were forming a foundation to continue her hobbies and hospital helping fund name "A Child's Smile". Still, without cost, the project partners completed the project she started also donated their time and talents on their own time. Her mom said she had placed a few favorite stuffed toys in her arms. I told her mom that Conney will hear a lot of children's stuff toys stories when she reaches heaven. As I hung up the phone, I became aware of tears rolling down my cheek but thinking to myself I'm glad to have met you, Conney, then my tears became a smile. Sweet dreams I picked up the small stuff angel she sent me from the top of my computer and gave it a big hug.