SMITHVILLE, Mo — Every Sept. 10, the Smithville community celebrates the life of Éowyn Maynes. “Fight Like A Princess Day” was started on her fifth birthday when the community held a fundraiser to help the Maynes family cover the cost of medical bills. Éowyn was fighting Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma at the time, a rare form of pediatric brain cancer.
“Every year I update the kids’ photos but life moves on, and hers didn’t get to … So her picture stays the same,” said mother Amanda Maynes.
It is a yearly reminder of a life cut short. While she can mentally prepare for the big events like Mother’s Day and the first day of school, it is never easy to come face to face with the little reminders that their daughter is gone.
“Every once in a while we’ll get out six plates for dinner, and then I put one back,” said father K.C. Maynes.
It has been three and a half years since Éowyn lost her battle to DIPG, but glimpses of who she was still remain in every corner of their house. Her paintings still hang on the walls and her backpack remains on the door hook.
“You are trying to remember who she was but also wondering who she would’ve been,” K.C said. “There’s no moving on, just moving forward from it.”
Following Éowyn’s death on Mother’s Day 2018, her family decided to continue her legacy by hosting a toy drive each year on her birthday. September is also Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. All the donations are given to Children’s Mercy Hospital as a way to give back and to pay it forward.
“It’s a way to honor her and keep her memory alive," Amanda said. "And at the same time, give back and pay it forward to other people that are in need."
Jenea Oliver with Children’s Mercy Hospital says she remembers the day she got the call that Éowyn had passed. Oliver’s family had close ties to the Maynes.
“Every year on 'Fight Like A Princess Day,' I remember Éowyn," Oliver said. "But I also think about this amazing family who is giving back to so many other children and families in Eowyn’s legacy."
The family hopes Éowyn will be remembered for her bright and spunky personality.
“We love her, and we miss her, and we take her with us everywhere,” Amanda said.
The toy drive will continue through Monday. Any donations can be dropped off at DJ’s Coffee in Smithville, Missouri.
For Children’s Mercy Hospital’s Amazon wish list, click here.