Costello Reese, 6, got out of a limousine with a big grin and walked into Target Tuesday evening.
It might not sound like much, but for Costello, who was severely burned in a house fire in February 2010, it was a huge accomplishment.
“It’s amazing to see how far he’s come,” said Dr. Fred Mullins, medical director of the Joseph M. Still Burn Center. “It’s a real big deal.”
Costello was one of about 50 children, former or current burn center patients, who were treated to a shopping spree as part of the ninth annual Shop With a Doc event.
The burn center partnered with the Southeastern Firefighters Burn Foundation and other sponsors to send the kids, all of whom have been in the intensive care unit, shopping with $100 gift cards. The event gives kids who have had a hard time something to smile about.
It’s the way children are supposed to act, said Mullins, who has seen them at their worst. “Watch them have fun. That’s what life’s all about.”
Julian McGee, 8, participated in the event four times and knew exactly what he was after – Legos.
“He waits for this every year,” Julian’s mother, Jennifer said.
Julian was burned over 80 percent of his body with scalding water as an infant.
“Legos are his out,” his mother said. “When he’s having a bad day, when he’s in pain, he sits and puts the whole thing together until it’s done.”
Chad and Deb Kuhn were celebrating more than taking their daughter, Caroline, shopping. Their adoption of Caroline, who turns two on Tuesday, was finalized only hours before the shopping spree.
“She loves to draw,” Caroline’s mother said as she put a drawing board in the cart for her daughter, who was more interested in the bag of popcorn.
The couple, who were headed to Disney World the next day, also are in the process of adopting Caroline’s nearly 3-year-old sister.
Costello, who brightened spirits with his ever-present grin, knew exactly what he wanted. As he rode in the shopping cart, he directed his mother toward the aisles with super hero toys and all things Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
He left with a cart full of loot and walked back out of the store.
“They bounce back like you wouldn’t believe,” Mullins said.