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Handicapped Youth Shows Unselfish Spirit In Shopping Spree

December 13, 1986

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) _ A terminally ill 14-year-old boy who was given a $200 shopping spree showed he understood the true meaning of Christmas when he used the opportunity to buy gifts for his family.

Richard Romines, who has muscular dystrophy and may only have a year to live, thought of others more than himself when he made his purchases Thursday.

A Child’s Dream, a program that tries to fulfill the wishes of terminally ill children, sponsored his shopping spree at Pic N’ Save, a discount department store.

″We figured he’d get primarily toys for himself,″ said store spokesman Jim Miranda. ″But he stays in the toy department only a few minutes, then he goes into the clothing department, men’s department, then to hardware.

″After a while, we got choked up. We said, ’Do you realize what he’s doing? He’s making Christmas for his family.‴

Pic N’ Save managers decided at that point to pick up the tab for the boy’s purchases, Miranda said. A Child’s Dream donated the original $200 to the Romines family.

″Who got the blessing? We got the blessing,″ Miranda said. ″It was really the spirit of giving. We thought we were the ones giving, but he gave us the gift.″

The youth collected items for his mother, father, and two brothers and the total was more than $200, but Miranda did not disclose how much more.

Miranda watched as the wheelchair-bound boy picked out after-shave, women’s clothes and a fishing rod, as well as toys for his brothers and himself.

Richard’s mother, Clara Romines, who works as a waitress, said the presents and the money will brighten the family’s Christmas.

″When we got home, we wrapped everything and put it under the tree. He’s a little excited right now,″ she said.

She said she was surprised when, of all the things Richard could have chosen from A Child’s Dream, he picked a shopping spree as his dream come true.

A Child’s Dream is a program sponsored by telephone-industry employees, including active and retired employees of Southern Bell. It got Richard’s name through a hospice program that helps terminally ill patients and their families.

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