Annie Smiles gears up for annual toy drive

Published: Nov. 21, 2022 at 5:02 PM EST
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PHILIPPI, W.Va (WDTV) - David Rowan and his wife run a non-profit organization in honor of their daughter Cheyenne, also known as Annie.

“Every child needs a Christmas smile in the morning,” David Rowan Co-Director and Co-Founder of Annie Smiles, said. “Annie had a very kind and sharing personality about her. Anything she had, she was willing to share with everybody.”

Annie Smiles is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing special needs children with everything they need inside and outside the home.

In her honor, they do an annual toy drive called Annie’s Christmas Wishes to keep spreading smiles through the holiday season.

“The love of a child and what she was about and sharing that with others. This is a healing process for us, and there is never a time limit on healing when you lose a child because Christmas was her favorite time of the year. There’s no doubt about that, so we share her thoughts and her actions and her love for everybody with everybody,” David said.

Annie was only 15 years old when she passed away from RSV. Even though her legacy lives on through her non-profit, the holiday season never gets easier, but helping others is what gets the Rowans through.

“It’s what gets us through. This is our drive. This is our driving force. It’s what gets us through now. When that day hits, then we can reflect, but right now it’s helping others through her, and it’s not easy and it’s never been easy,” David said.

The organization makes sure every child in the 10 participating counties can wake up with a smile on Christmas Day just as Annie did and, this year, they are helping over 300 families.

“Every child deserves some type of smile on Christmas morning. Every child deserves some sort of Christmas, and if we can be just a small part of that, then that’s what we want to do,” David said. “She never frowned. She was the happiest child, even when she was sick. She always had a smile, so its Annie’s smiles because they were never ending.”