Local boy’s final wish helps others

JIm Poe and other volunteers from Santa’s Toy Shoppe load toys that were donated to the charity in honor of Gage Kukovage, an eight-year-old Yukon boy who died Sept. 1 from a rare form of cancer. Photo / Terry Groover

“I really think he is leaving behind an amazing legacy,” Deedra Krupovage said of her son, Gage.
The eight-year-old Yukon boy was diagnosed over the summer with a rare form of cancer that attacks the spinal cord. He died Sept. 1.
As one of his final requests, the Shedeck Elementary School third-grade student requested that people make donations to Santa’s Toy Shoppe instead of sending flowers to his service.
Last week, his mother, aunt and others from the community arrived at Smith and Turner Mortuary, which handled his service, to pick up toys that had been donated.
Hundreds of toys were waiting.
Jim Poe, who heads the Santa’s Toy Shoppe program that provides toys to children in need each year, said he was amazed by Gage’s efforts, as well as the community’s outpouring of support.
Poe said the donations equaled several sacks, as well as boxes full of toys. And more continues to arrive.
Gage’s mother said her son made a big impact in his short life.
The idea of providing for others was nothing new for Gage, she said. He often did that.
Before his death, Gage was sworn into the the Army, was made an honorary trooper with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, and he became a zoologist with the Oklahoma City Zoo.
Krupovage said she joked that with all the jobs that Gage had, he should be deciding what to do with all his paychecks.
“He said, ‘You don’t get them. We’re going to give them to charity,’” Krupovage said.
“It was just so humbling coming from an eight year old. At that age, I would see money and think I can go buy all these things, and he wanted to give it all to charity,” she said.
The family had been a beneficiary of Santa’s Toy Shoppe when Gage was a toddler, and he also knew that his mother wasn’t a huge fan of flowers. So, the idea of getting donations to help other children seemed natural.
“He said, ‘instead of flowers, can we get toys and givem to kids that don’t have stuff.’ As a parent, I always wonder if I’m doing things right. There is no manual, but when your kids says that, it just like, ‘I must be doing something right.’ It’s hard,” she said.
But it wasn’t the first time he had done something similar.
The family had been able to obtain scooters and other toys for the neighborhood. The items were stolen one day, she said.
Gage, she said, wasn’t upset. Instead, he said the people who took them must have needed them more.
“He always thought of other people. So, it makes me want to do more,” she said. “At eight, you see a lotof kids who are thinking of themselves because that is their nature. But not Gage. He wanted to give, give and share,” she said.
Gage was the recipient of a Make-A-Wish shopping spree. He didn’t buy things for himself, she said. He bought for his family, including presents that will be unwrapped at Christmas.
But it’s the efforts to help the Toy Shoppe that are most rewarding.
“He wanted to do good, and I feel he left a legacy that when someone hear’s his name, they are going to know that is the little boy who wanted to help other people above himself.
“It is overwhelming because he is my baby, and two months ago we were planning silly stuff. We don’t have that anymore,” she said.

1 Comment

  1. Annette Foy on September 29, 2019 at 10:22 pm

    Gage was an inspiration

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