Sporting his trademark red and white striped shirt, knitted pom-pom tipped cap, and walking cane- who would not be be familiar with Waldo?! Always appearing on random places (well, at least on puzzle books), Waldo who was brought to life by Martin Handford has been a companion of children since 1987.
Searching for Waldo who is well-hidden in the detailed illustration of a sea of people is good for honing children’s observation skills and igniting a competitive spirit. Meanwhile, for kids who are healing at Memorial Children’s Hospital of South bend, Waldo does not only enhance their skills- he also sparks joy in their heart!
Jason Haney of Indiana may just be an average construction worker. But for those who have heard his story, he is a modern hero who knows how to spread happiness!
The then 41-year-old Jason was working on the construction of the new wing of a children’s hospital of Indiana, when he decided to go for the extra-mile. The hardworking construction worker decided to do something nice that would paint a smile on the patients from the next door hospital building. And what plan could work better than building a life-size Waldo and hiding it on the unfinished hospital building for the kids to find?!
Every few days, Jason would hide an 8-foot wooden cut-out of Waldo in various unsuspecting places of the unfinished building. The children from the hospital building next door would enjoy searching for the elusive Waldo. This went on and on, giving children an opportunity to be kids again.
“I can’t believe a simple piece of wood can bring so much happiness.” The imaginative construction worker shared in an interview.
Heidi Prescott, the spokeswoman of Memorial Children’s Hospital is happy and thankful for Jason’s effort in uplifting the spirits of the children residing in their wards.
“You walk into the pediatrics unit and you ask the kids, ‘Where’s Waldo?’, and we have seen children in the play area or their rooms run up to the window and look out,” Heidi Prescott shared how Jason’s sweet gesture gave the kids something to look forward to. “It really helps take their mind off what they’re going through for a couple minutes, and it’s been very heartwarming.”
Jason’s Where’s Waldo idea started out from a project he did during the winter. Taking advantage of the pile of snow, Jason built a snowman and put a hardhat and vest on him, the sighting of the snowman became popular with the children. Afterwards, he also put an inflatable SpongeBob SquarePants figure as well, which was a hit for the children as well.
To continue spreading happiness and positive vibes on the children, Jason finally thought of hiding a life-size Waldo on the unfinished building. With the help of his beloved and equally creative daughter, they came up with the 8-foot Waldo which the children loved so much. Making his cool gesture even more lit, Jason also created a Facebook page in which the kids or their parents can post photos of the hidden Waldo once they have spotted him.
Wondering why a simple construction worker is going beyond his work scope to make the hospital children happy? Well, it is because Jason and his family know very well how hard it is to stay in the hospital and not know what might happen next. Apparently, their daughter suffered from stroke while she’s still in the womb of Heather. At age 3, the doctors informed them about the damage it caused on the left side of her brain. According to the doctors, Taylor wouldn’t be able to learn past a third-grade level.
“It was the worst news possible,” Jason recalled. “We were shocked, but the brain is amazing, and it righted itself.”
But the loving couple did not waver. They believe that their daughter is not a lost cause. Taylor was able to graduate from high school with honors and even made it to Ball State University!
To keep uplifting the spirits of the children and their parents who are spending their time in the hospital, Jason also thought of making some minions to paint an even wider smile on their faces!
But with or without the minions, Jason’s effort and good intentions already inspired the children at the hospital.
“The other day a girl who is about 10 years old was getting chemo, and you could just see her eyes light up when she met Jason,” Heidi Prescott shared how Jason has kept the hope burning in the hearts of the patients.
Watch the inspiring video below and learn more about Jason Haney, the construction worker who is going beyond his duty to inspire, give hope, and uplift the spirits of the children at the memorial hospital!
Photos and Video | WSBT-TV