Pennsylvania girl battling cancer collects Play Doh for fellow patients

An 8-year-old Pennsylvania girl battling bone cancer is on a mission to collect Play Doh so that other pediatric patients have something to play with while at the hospital.

In mid-April, then-7-year-old Nevaeh Griffin fell at a school event and injured her knee.  At first, her parents thought it was a normal injury, but after more than a week, the swelling hadn’t gone away. Physicians gave the Griffin family three possible causes and sent them to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh (UPMC).

On her 8th birthday, Nevaeh began her fight against what was eventually diagnosed as Osteosarcoma – the most common form of bone cancer.

“It’s shocking, unbelievable. This doesn’t happen to your own family, it doesn’t happen to your child,” Nevaeh’s mom, Amber, told  Nevaeh has undergone 12 grueling rounds of chemotherapy that sometimes required 5-day hospital stays, and will undergo seven more.

“She has a hard time, she doesn’t like to leave her room often so we try to entertain her as much as possible in her room,” Amber told

During Neveah’s first stay, the staff at UPMC sang “Happy Birthday” and brought her presents, which included Play Doh.

“They had given her like four or five things of Play Doh, and she said ‘Mom you know, this really helps me forget about everything. Let’s collect Play Doh for the hospital,’” Amber said.

The Play Doh also helps stretch Neveah’s hands and help keep her active since she’s been restricted to her wheel chair.

With a surgery to replace her knee and part of her tibia scheduled for August, and the Griffin family still adjusting to Nevaeh’s treatment schedule, her teacher, Nancy Holliday stepped in to help kick start the campaign.

Holliday first appealed to the West Newton Elementary School to collect 1,000 cans, and the response was immediate. To date, Nevaeh’s campaign has collected more than 15,000 cans.

The most recent mass donation came from medical supplies manufacturer Ci Medical Technologies. The company presented Nevaeh with 4,000 cans of Play Doh. Even her hometown football team, the Yough Cougars, challenged their opponent, the Elizabeth Warriors, to see who could collect more cans and came up with an additional 2,000.

“It’s insane, it’s a shock to us, she almost cried yesterday when they gave her 4,000 cans,” Amber said.

Hasbro, the company behind Play Doh also donated 1,000 cans to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh in Nevaeh's honor.

"We were touched when we learned of her wish to collect cans of Play-Doh, not for herself, but to help other children cope with their own illness," Karen Davis, senior vice president of global philanthropy & social impact at Hasbro, Inc., said in a statement.

"When young people recognize their own ability to make a difference in the world, it can be transformative; regardless of their circumstances," Davis said. "We wish all the best for Nevaeh, both in her fight against cancer and in her effort to help other children face their own challenges."

Another surprise was in store for the little girl whose favorite Play Doh color is blue, when a stranger heard about her campaign, and also a wish of her own – a puppy. A Yorkshire terrier named Toby found its way to Nevaeh.

“It was really, really awesome,” Nevaeh told “I like to play with him.”

The Griffins plan to give 1,000 cans of Play Doh each to St. Jude’s Hospital and Shriners Hospital for Children, among others. Local hospitals who have pediatric patients will also receive smaller donations.

The campaign is slated to continue until Nevaeh’s treatment ends in early December, and local businesses are still collecting. Play Doh can be sent to Holliday Chiropractic in Belle Vernon, Pa., West Newton Elementary School in Pa., and Fat Sammies Pizza Shop in Jeannette, Pa.