TOWSON, Md. — At first glance, the fuzzy, soft stuffed duck looks innocent and pure.
Then you hit the remote control and the cute little duck becomes quite flatulent.
Its one of dozens of stuffed animals with gas issues that are donated through the non-profit Andrew's Laughing Gas, started by Paul and Colleen Mercier.
"Laughter is the best medicine they say, right?" said Paul.
When you hear the Mercier's story, you wouldn't think they had much to laugh about. They lost their 10-year-old son Andrew to a rare form of leukemia in December of 2019. WMAR-2 News did a story with Andrew in May of 2019 and you would never know what he was going through by talking to him.
"He was very strong through the whole thing and his sense of humor never waned through the whole eight months that he battled it," said Paul.
Andrew really put his sense of humor in action while being treated at Johns Hopkins Children's Center, when a surgeon brought in a giant stuffed animal with a farting machine inside and a remote control.
"There he proceeded to prank the doctors and nurses. It just brought him so much joy to prank all of the people coming in to see him," Colleen said.
Leah Uddeme, a pediatric oncology nurse who worked with Andrew, remembers those pranks fondly.
"He had the sanitation workers laughing, he had the surgeons laughing, he had any and everybody laughing," she said.
That laughter and joy sparked the idea for Andrew's Laughing Gas. About a month after Andrew died, his parents started a GoFundMe page to purchase enough stuffed animals with the flatulent sound machines to donate to kids on Andrew's floor of the Children's Center. The toys were a hit and their project took off.
In 2020, Andrew's Laughing Gas sent 550 stuffed animals to children in hospitals around the country and the world. In the first four months of 2021, they've surpassed that number and they say the response is exactly what they hoped for when they started this non-profit.
"I remember one [parent] in particular emailed us and said it was the first time they had seen their child laugh since diagnosis. Even if lasts five minutes, it was worth it," Paul said.
As the donations come in, the gassy stuffed animals go out and Andrew is there in spirit, laughing right along with each child who receives this special and unique gift.
"He reminds me everyday to make this kid smile, if anything today, make them laugh once," said Uddeme.
"He always wanted to be famous, that was his goal in life to be famous," said Colleen. "I know he’s up there laughing with us because he is not only famous but he’s famous for farting."
If you'd like to donate to Andrew's Laughing Gas, click here.