A 5-year-old boy who has had multiple cranial surgeries received a doll with the same scars on its head as he has, thanks to a local second-grade class who was looking for a way to give back.
Payton Haynes of Sebring, Florida, has never seen a doll that looks like him until students at the Cracker Trail Elementary School surprised him with the custom-made gift to celebrate their last day of school.
“It was interesting seeing him look at the doll the first time and recognize his doll has the same scars as he does,” mom Kristen Haynes told InsideEdition.com. “He even looked for the scar on his abdomen. He said the doll looks just like him.”
Little Payton has battled different conditions since he was born and was most recently diagnosed with hydrocephalus, which is excess fluid in the brain and causes the head to become enlarged.
Ever since his first surgery at 3 months old, he has had several tests and operations that have left him with some large scars.
“It is very likely he will need more surgeries in the future,” Kristen said. “His scars are a part of who he is now.”
Meanwhile, the second graders of Cracker Trail Elementary School, where Kristen was once a teacher, were looking for a good cause to end the year with a bang when they learned about little Payton’s story.
“I reached out to his mom to get some ideas of something we could do for him,” teacher Liz Prendergast told InsideEdition.com. “She mentioned the doll — she said she heard about them and thought it would be so cool to get one for him.”
When they looked into the custom-made doll, they discovered a woman in Wisconsin makes them, and there was a three-year waiting list to order a doll.
“I reached out to Amy [the doll maker] who was so moved by the story that she put us ahead of her three-year wait and spent an entire weekend making this doll happen,” Prendergast said. “She overnighted him from Wisconsin to us in Florida as soon as he was finished.”
On the last day of school, the students invited little Payton to their classroom to present him with the doll.
“He was very touched by the kindness of the kids. He gave so many hugs, it was very sweet to watch,” his mom said. “It was very encouraging to witness the empathy of such young children for a child they have never met.”