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Senior makes hundreds of wooden toys for children's charities despite debilitating condition

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To appreciate why Lynndon Franz wears a Santa hat in his workshop, we need to go back to that day he got a nail stuck in his eye.

“It was probably about that size,” Lynndon says after pulling a large nail out of a container full of them.

Lynndon says he was 14 when a friend threw a bunch of nails at the back of his head as a joke.

“He called my name, so I turned,” Lynndon says. “And I got one in the eye.”

Lynndon was left permanently blind in his right eye, and unable to play his beloved baseball.

“The one thing I loved doing,” Lynndon says. “I couldn’t do anymore.”

Lynndon says he struggled for years before discovering a passion for photography in high school.

“It was amazing!” Lynndon recalls with a smile.

And like his picture of the sun rising on a new day, Lynndon learned creativity could brighten his life.

“I knew I could just keep on going,” Lynndon says.

Decades later, Lynndon had to give-up taking pictures. He was repeatedly hospitalized for debilitating bouts of vertigo, which led to a severe and chronic condition.

“My brain is telling me I’m falling all the time,” Lynndon says, adding he never stops feeling dizzy.

Which means Lynndon spends almost all his most energy simply trying to stay-up.

“It's tough to try and keep going every day,” Lynndon admits.

But like he did after the nail accident, rather than focusing on all the things he couldn’t do, Lynndon eventually taught himself something creative he could.

“I just started playing with the wood,” Lynndon says.

He made simple wooden toys, which led to constructing more complex cars, trucks and colourful characters.

“I really enjoyed it,” he says.

After gifting the first few toys to his grateful grandchildren, Lynndon has spend the last couple of years turning his small garage in to a Santa-style workshop. The 67-year-old (who sports a white beard and wears a red hat lined with white fur) has slowly but surely hand-made hundreds of toys to donate to local daycares and children’s charities for Christmas.

“The thing with wooden toys is kids can use their imagination a lot more,” Lynndon says.

But when he receives photos and thank-you cards showing how much kids like his toys, you don’t need to imagine how meaningful it is for Lynndon, you can see it in his eyes.

“It gives me a good feeling inside,” Lynndon smiles, before wiping away a tear after reading a thank you card. “I need to do something, and if can give back a little bit, all the better.” 

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