Shopping for kids.

Aiming for a Cure Foundation shopping trip.

Two children who are fighting cancer are on a $5,000 shopping spree at a Coralville department store this  afternoon. The two are patients at the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital in Iowa City and the toys, games, crafts and DVDs they’re buying are for other patients in the pediatric oncology unit.

Jody Ries founded the Aiming for a Cure Foundation, which provided the spending cash. “Last year, the two kids that did that were just smiling the whole time,” Ries says, thinking how much fun the other patients will have playing with the various toys or watching the movies. “It’s just fun to watch the kids and know how much enjoyment they’ll have out of this.” She says this is an annual tradition that’s funded by her non-profit group.

“They’ll pick toys that they enjoy to play with and toys that they think the other kids will want to play with, just updating new movies, the games, the board games,” Ries says. “Anything they enjoy, they’ll pick out for other kids.” Each year 50-to-60 children are newly diagnosed with cancer at the U-I Children’s Hospital.

At any one time, hundreds more are being treated. Ries lives in rural Linn County near Central City. Her 12-year-old son, Ben, died in 2005 after a five-year battle with brain cancer. She says, “We started Aiming for a Cure as a way to give back to the university for the care that we were given while Ben was staying there and just the tremendous support that we got and how important Child Life was to him, knowing there were always things for him to do and take his mind off what he was going through.”

One of the primary fundraisers is an annual two-day pheasant hunt in Riverside, followed by a banquet in Iowa City. For more information, visit: ““.