ATLANTA - An Atlanta man is turning his nearly life-threatening illness into a passion to help children.
Sitting underneath the Christmas tree in Edward Drake II's home, you'll see dozens of gifts. The racecars, the games, and the dolls are all a part of his mission.
"We have a whole bunch of gift bags that we'll be dropping off at Children's Health Care of Atlanta among other hospitals. We've got various toys, we've got inspirational gifts," Drake told Good Day Atlanta's Lindsay Tuman.
This is one of the efforts he puts together as part of the YNOTT Foundation, or Youth Needing Organ and Tissue Transplants. Sponsors like CareDx helped make it happen.
"If you can brighten someone's day and make an impact, why not?" Drake said.
The toy drive will reach more than 500 pediatric transplant patients. The support does not stop at the toys.
"It's easy to motivate, but they can reach out to us after this for support and if they need nutritional assistance, need mentoring, or just need a friend," he said.
Drake knows firsthand how important that connection is. When he was 20-years-old, he went from being a college sophomore and a football player, to a dialysis patient on a kidney transplant waitlist.
"During a routine physical I found out that I had kidney failure. Never had any signs or symptoms," he said, "I was just devastated. I started dialysis, which I started doing for three days a week for four hours for each treatment. still got the dialysis marks on my arms."
Soon, he used his time at home while he was receiving treatment to start volunteering at the local children's hospital. He says that experience changed his perspective.
"That why me turned into YNOTT, and now I'm helping other people think why not me about how they can help other people in life," he said.
So whether that's by spreading holiday cheer, or offering a helping hand, Drake says, why not? And he hopes others will too.
If you're interested in learning more about the YNOTT Foundation, you can click here to visit their website.