Tyrus McElven knew exactly what he wanted for Christmas.
The 8-year-old was one of 40 young patients at the Doctors Hospital Joseph M. Still Burn Center who started his holiday season early Tuesday night.
Members of the group, assisted by doctors, hospital staff, firefighters and community members, received $150 gift cards to spend at the Evans Target for the eighth annual Shop with a Doc event.
Tyrus made a beeline for the back of the store, where he came across the bike rack. He picked out his favorite and also selected a green pogo stick before calling it a night.
The young shoppers arrived at Target in three stretch limos and were greeted by Santa. They were treated to dinner after shopping.
The shopping spree, organized by the burn center and the Southeastern Firefighters Burn Foundation, gave children who have been hospitalized in the center’s intensive care a break from their daily struggles.
“It is a very painful condition,” said burn center surgeon Zaheed Hassan. “I love to see that I’m making a difference in people’s lives.
“The difference made in a child’s life is more gratifying than anything else.”
Tyrus came to the burn center in February 2011 after a fure in the family home. He had second- and third-degree burns over 40 percent of his body, said his mother, Novella McGill.
For the past four months, the pair have made the four- hour round-trip from Sumter, S.C., to the burn center for weekly follow-up visits.
Tyrus will require additional operations to treat his burns, having already endured several surgeries and skin graft procedures, McGill said.
“Day to day, I know it’s tough,” she said. “I think it’s wonderful for him to be around other kids.”
Tyrus, who turns 9 next week, was eager to try out his new toys.
“I’m going to use the pogo stick first,” he said with a big smile.
Johnna Ruffin, a physician assistant at the burn center, accompanied Tyrus and his mother.
Ruffin said it’s great to be able to spread joy among the children. “It’s a fun time. These kids have gone through a lot of difficulty with their burns.”