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Granting Christmas wishes keeps leukemia victim's memory alive

By JR Ortega
Dec. 8, 2011 at 6:08 a.m.
Updated Dec. 11, 2011 at 6:11 a.m.

Ronnie Ruddick, Leticia Buckert and Michael Buckert carry about 100 gift bags that will be distributed to children at Methodist Children's Hospital in San Antonio on Dec. 1 in La Salle.

LA SALLE - A misty afternoon drizzle mirrored the hazy tears welling in Linda Bonelli's eyes.

Sometimes it still hurts talking about her youngest son, Kory Kubecka, who died in 2008 after a five-year battle with T-cell Leukemia.

This year, he would have been 19 and an Industrial High School graduate.

Instead, Bonelli stood watching her friends load up a large U-Haul with nearly 100 presents - it's these gifts that have helped keep Kory's memory alive.

"This is in Kory's name," she said. "The reason I started this whole thing was to have these kids get what they really want."

The Five-Year Battle

Kory was 11 when his mom first noticed the bruises appearing on his skin.

She thought her daughter had been playing too rough with him, but she put that idea to rest when she realized how covered in bruises Kory actually was.

This was one of the first signs of what would come to be a roller coaster cancer battle.

"It was hard," she said, biting her lip.

He had been receiving his treatments in Corpus Christi and was able to finish his freshman year in school. He then went into remission, but the cancer came back.

Kory needed a bone marrow transplant and spent the last four months of his life at Methodist Children's Hospital in San Antonio.

But while Kory was there, his mother noticed how bored he had become.

"He had no contact with the outside world," she said. "He wanted all these things."

Kory finally got a laptop and kept in contact with friends and family back home.

There was so much more he wanted, and he knew others also in the hospital wanted things as well.

It was not until after his death that their wishes began to come true.

Keeping Kory's Name Alive

"This is one of the flat screens," said Rosie Ruddick as she helped lift a large gift-wrapped present.

Bonelli spreads out a scroll with 67 names written in red and green script: These are the kids who will be receiving their Christmas wishes this year.

One is from the Crossroads, but the others are from throughout the state. All of them stay at the Methodist Children's Hospital in San Antonio - the same hospital where Kory's battle ended.

"That's a lot of love," Bonelli said as she looked at all the presents.

The parents or guardians of each kid sends in a wish list of whatever gifts the child wants. Then, Bonelli and several friends host a fundraiser in August to raise the money to make those gifts come true.

That's when the Santa Run happens.

Motorcyclists, friends and of course, Santa Claus, drive up to San Antonio to deliver the gifts. This year, the kids received their gifts last weekend.

Some of the big items were several flat screen televisions, Wii's and iPod Touches.

"He'd be happy," Bonelli said with a sigh. "This kid went through a lot of suffering. I want to keep his name alive."

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