After donating to Project Santa, the National Guard introduced Erin to a deserving soldier. After serving a year in Iraq, Todd Watts received heartbreaking news about his 4-year-old autistic daughter, Kayla. Diagnosed with acute blastic leukemia, she was rushed to St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. The family made the almost nine-hour drive every weekend for six weeks to visit Kayla.
Kayla, who was diagnosed in July, finally came home on Labor Day. Todd quit his job to care for Kayla during her recovery. Now that she's home, the family must drive more than an hour each way for Kayla's weekly check-ups. As long as Kayla stays in remission for five years, she has a 99 percent chance of never getting the cancer back.
Erin set up a meeting with Todd under the guise that she was interviewing him for a school project. Little did he know that Erin had quite a surprise in store for this family! Thanks to the community, Erin grew the original $1,000 bank card into almost $2,000! The family also received $100 in gas cards, a gift certificate for a local restaurant and presents for the kids.
Todd was left speechless by Erin's gift. "When I was over in Iraq last year, we were donating to St. Jude," Todd says. "You wouldn't think that someone who donated…to the hospital would have to use the hospital."
Erin says she was overjoyed to help Todd's family. "I just can't thank Oprah, her staff and everyone enough for giving me this opportunity to be a part of this, to pay it forward," Erin says. "It's something I don't plan on stopping here. I plan on spending the rest of my life paying it forward."