Grayson’s gifts: ailing Winterport boy putting peers first this Christmas

Published: Dec. 19, 2022 at 5:26 PM EST
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ORRINGTON, Maine (WABI) - Santa’s helpers come in all shapes and sizes.

In this case, a boy from Winterport is making sure children who have to spend Christmas at one Portland hospital still have presents to unwrap.

Five-year-old Grayson Witham has a rare genetic disorder called autosomal recessive polycystic disease (ARPKD). As his family searches for a donor, they say they learned last week that Grayson’s kidneys are no longer functioning and must be removed.

When they found out Grayson would be in the hospital over Christmas, they asked him if he had any special requests for the holiday.

His wish? That every other patient on his floor at the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital would have a present to unwrap.

“He knew he was going to be spending Christmas at the Barbara Bush Center and decided that, when we asked him, he didn’t want anything. He wanted all the children on his floor… [he wanted] to take care of all the kids,” said an emotional Timothy Kenney, Grayson’s granduncle.

Grayson’s Christmas wish is now coming to life at the Kenneys’ house in Orrington.

Timothy Kenney, a long-time firefighter, put out the plea on Facebook. Hundreds have shared Grayson’s request, with gifts coming in from as far away as Northern Maine and Massachusetts.

“Obviously we’re facing hard times with heating oil. The economy is so tough. But what we’ve received for generosity tells me that people all over New England have opened their hearts and their pocketbooks to take care of this little boy,” said Kenney.

On Tuesday morning, Kenney and other family members will head down to Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital in Portland in a makeshift sleigh, bringing toys and holiday cheer ahead of Grayson’s surgery.

Even after the procedure, the road to recovery stretches out far ahead of him.

“He’s going to have to go to dialysis. His parents are going to have to travel from Winterport, Maine to Portland every other day to give them dialysis because there’s not a doctor in this area that can take care of him,” said Kenney.

But for now, the hope for a life free from pain -- and the anticipation of a little Christmas magic -- is keeping Grayson going.

“We sent him a text with some of the pictures when they first came in, and his face reminded me of getting out of bed in the morning and seeing the presents under the Christmas tree. He was so excited knowing that the kids on his unit are going to be taken care of,” said Kenney.

The family is no longer looking for gifts, however they are accepting financial support to help them with travel costs.

You can donate via Venmo to Kenney (@burner3665) or Kyle, Grayson’s stepdad (@kyle_moore09).

If you’d like to follow Grayson’s journey on Facebook, you can do so on this page:

You can find the form to sign up to be a potential kidney donor here: You just need Grayson’s full name (Grayson Witham) and birthday (9-24-17).