WARREN - Each time Liam Dreier visited the burn unit at Akron Children's Hospital for treatment, he was given a toy.
Five or six visits, five or six toys.
That got Liam's mother and father, Katy and Billy, thinking ... all those toys given to all those patients, they've got to come from somewhere.
Tribune Chronicle / Ron Selak Jr.
Billy Dreier, left, his wife, Katy, and their son, Liam, 1, collected toys to be donated to the Akron Children’s Hospital.
So to celebrate the littlest Dreier's second birthday, instead of family and friends buying a toy for their son, Katy, 31, and Billy, 30, decided to have a party and ask people to bring a toy to donate to the hospital to be given to other patients.
''Liam's Charity for Children BBQ'' was Sunday at his grandparents' house in Warren.
Admission was one new, unwrapped toy, and by the end of the evening, a tabletop was filled with toys. Some were mailed, some were dropped off at the Horseshoe Bar, where Billy tends bar, others were donated by employees at Fleming and Billman Funeral Home, where Katy works and some dropped off their gifts at the party.
''Fantastic'' is what Nita and Jim Necastro, who attended the barbecue said about the idea.
''I think it's wonderful they are giving back,'' said Nita, whose son Bob is Billy's longtime friend. ''They got wonderful treatment for their child so they want to give back so other families can get that same treatment.''
Liam suffered second degree burns to about 25 percent of his torso in February when he accidentally pulled over a pot of chicken noodle soup that had just been taken off the burner, spilling the liquid on his chest. He was taken to Trumbull Memorial Hospital and then flown by helicopter to Akron, where he was kept overnight and where he went for outpatient care.
Vicki Parisi, manager of Akron Children's volunteer services, said the hospital relies on donations for gifts given to patients during the year. Cash donations are put in the hospital's toy fund for gifts.
''I think it's amazing that a child or family comes to that on their own, they want to give gifts from a birthday or shower gifts,'' Parisi said. ''It's really cool.''
The hospital provides a patient donation ''wish list'' of items on its website - www.akronchildrens.org - that's divided among boys and girls. There's also a wish list for teens and the hospital also gives gifts to patients whose treatment extends to adulthood, Parisi said.
The website also includes gift safety guidelines.
''It's nice when people want to give back,'' Parisi said. ''We get pretty excited. It's so cool when it's little kids, when they come toddling in to bring in their stuff.''
Billy said he wants to make the backyard cookout for Liam's birthday an annual event, each year to help a different cause or charity.
As for Liam, whose birthday is Aug. 20, he's fully healed. ''He came out without a scar,'' Billy said.