Toy like me: Local seven year-old boy receives unique action figure

PHOTO: Samantha Zarek

WASHINGTON COUNTY, VA - Imagine there's a super hero that looks just like you. One a local seven-year-old boy can brag about that claim to fame. This super hero has the power to change the way others think.

Ross Gibson is just like any other 7 year-old; he goes to school, spends time with family and friends, and of course enjoys playing with action figures, but this action figure is one of a kind, just like him.

"It looks like's got glasses and a birthmark like me," Ross says.

Ross is a first grader at Watauga Elementary. He enjoys math, playing baseball, and learning about airplanes.

"When he was born, and we noticed the bright red birthmark on his face, I had no idea what it was...the doctor didn't really know what it was," says Ross' mother Emily Gibson.

It's a condition called Sturge-Webber syndrome, marked by a vascular birthmark.

"He gets his feelings hurt quite a bit, and he hears things, and it can be anywhere from school to the grocery store to the park. People just stare and they say things," Emily says.

Ross was chosen to receive an action figure that looks just like him through a program at Roanoke College called, "Toy Like Me". It started as a part of a class-- the college then partnered with an international organization called "Toy Like Me." The students at Roanoke College make hundreds of custom toys a year, to raise awareness around accepting kids for who they are. Ross says his toy makes him feel happy.

"He loves it and anytime anyone comes to our house that has not seen it, he makes them go upstairs in his bedroom immediately to show them his toy that is just like him," Emily says.

Emily says her family is thankful for Roanoke College's "Toy Like Me" program. She says it has changed her family's life in a positive way.

To donate to the "Toy Like Me" program at Roanoke College, Mrs. Alice Lawrence at

To nominate a child to receive a toy, contact Francis Bosch at

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