AYDEN — A bakery proved the perfect spot for a sweet gesture in honor of a local boy.
Gwendy Yiznitsky, the owner of Gwendy’s Goodies in Ayden, held story hour on Friday in honor of the late Tyson Such, a 3-year-old who died in March 2017.
Tyson had lissencephaly, a rare genetic disorder known as smooth brain. The disease causes a lack of folds to develop on the brain. Many children born with the disorder die before they are 10 years old.
“We learned he was medically fragile just a few weeks after his birth,” said Jessica Such, Tyson’s mother. “He taught us so much about life and perspective, especially from his own perspective on life.”
Such created the “Random Acts for Ty,” a campaign to help honor her son’s memory, to help spread kindness and joy. She created the hashtag #randomactsforty and had cards printed that shared Ty’s story. Folks who perform a random act can leave the card for the recipient of the act to encourage them to pay it forward.
The movement made its way to Yiznitsky through a customer.
“A customer came in and showed me Jessica’s Facebook page and all of the good work she was doing,” Yiznitsky said.
The customer then proposed the idea of Yiznitsky’s bakery hosting an elephant-themed story hour. Tyson’s favorite animals were elephants. Yiznitsky agreed to the idea.
“It is a real honor to see others hosting events to help others in the name of our son,” Such said on Friday.
Friday’s story time featured several books about elephants. Children, and adults who attended the event received an elephant-shaped cookie with a card attached sharing Tyson’s journey and explaining how to get involved with “Random Acts for Ty.”
Five-year-old Erin Bosse and her sister Beverly, 3, attended the story time with Emily Beeman,4.
“I’m going to be an elephant when I grow up,” Beverly told Yiznitsky before the reading of the first story, “When the Elephant Walks” by Keiko Kasza.
Yiznitsky led the children in a song to begin the event. They wiggled and shook around, using their arms to represent the trunk of an elephant, filling the bakery with laughter.
Yiznitsky also read “Hide and Seek” by Il Sung Na. She then passed out elephant-shaped cookies explaining the importance behind them.
“One cookie is for you. The other is for you to give to someone else,” Yiznitsky said, encouraging the children to be kind to one another.
The children quickly caught on, and began handing their extra cookies to customers in the bakery.
“I gave mine to the nice lady taking pictures,” Erin said, referring to a member of the media.
The elephant-shaped cookies are available for purchase for $2 throughout January. Jessica launched the “Random Acts for Ty” campaign in January, in celebration of Tyson’s birthday month. He was born Jan. 6, 2014.
All proceeds from the cookie sales benefit the Parker Lee Foundation, which helps improve the quality of life for children who are disabled and disadvantaged.
“The foundation was created by another mom whose child had lissencephaly, and who I got to know very well through Tyson’s journey,” Jessica said. “The foundation helps and family with fees and charges that their insurance does not cover.”
Yiznitsky noted, “After Ty passed away, all of Tyson’s medical equipment was donated to that foundation to help another child.”
Gwendy’s Goodies, 514 Second St., Ayden, is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays (closed Mondays) and from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays.