Toy Doctor makes annual trip to Shriners Hospital
By: Lesley De Marinis
Wearing a white lab coat and scrubs, Norman Brown could almost blend in at the Shriners Hospital for Children. That is, except for his baseball cap covered in hot wheels cars, cartoon action figures – and topped with a propeller. Norman is known here as the Toy Doctor, and once a year, gets dressed up and delivers toys to sick children.
Norman has held the title of Toy Doctor for the past 35 years, ever since he bumped into a young boy with a broken toy.
“I saw a youngster who had a toy in his hand and he was ready to throw it away,” he explains. “So I said ‘if you’re going to throw it away, can I have it?’”
Norman took the toy home and fixed it, and returned it to the boy the following day. “He took it in his hand, he played with it, and he said ‘you must be the Toy Doctor.’”
The name stuck, and in 1993, Norman started to collect and deliver toys to children in Montreal hospitals. He began by delivering toys to the Montreal Children’s Hospital, then to CHU Sainte-Justine and CLSC clinics.
Most recently, on Monday, July 13th, the Toy Doctor made a trip to the Shriners Hospital for Children, where he has been delivering toys for the past four years. With the help of his daughter, he handed out several bags of toys to newborns and teenagers alike, and left gifts aside for children undergoing surgery during the time of his visit.
“It’s always nice to have the children come out of surgery and have a little gift waiting for them in their rooms,” says Gemma Bélanger, Information Officer at the Shriners.
Norman thanks his friend Howard Ross, and businesses such asMaxi, Jean Coutu,VTech and Cloud bfor providing him with donations of toys and money. Norman considers this his full time job and has already started preparing for his trip next year.
“I’ve already picked up two more toys for my next visit,” Norman laughs. “I love it. When I give out the toys I become young again because the children give me my youth again. There is so much negativity out there today and we’re lacking happiness and joy. There’s always bad news but I bring good news. I bring joy and happiness. I’m giving from my heart.”
If you would like to donate toys or help the Toy Doctor with his next visit, he can be reached at email@example.com.