SOUTH BEND, Ind. – A hospital is never a fun place to be — especially for kids.
But for patients at Memorial Children’s Hospital of South Bend, a popular children’s book character is popping up in surprising spots, and putting smiles on kids’ faces.
Construction foreman Jason Haney has been working on the Indiana hospital’s expansion and built an 8-foot tall Waldo from the famous “Where’s Waldo?” books.
Haney’s creation is moved to different spots around the building and the kids spot it, just like they would find the character in the well-known picture book series.
He told CNN the reason he did it was simple: “I just wanted to make kids smile and make them feel better.”
And not surprisingly, Waldo quickly became a hit with the patients.
“When I go up to the hospital to visit the children, a hospital worker told a little girl I was the man who built Waldo. She was so excited. ‘You’re the guy who made Waldo? Thank you so much!'”
Seeing the girl’s reaction made it all worthwhile for Haney.
“Let’s just say I’m glad I had sunglasses on. Seeing the kids’ reactions even for a little bit and knowing that for that brief moment they’re not concerned with what’s going on makes it all worth it.”
There’s a Facebook group where people can see all the places Waldo has popped up at the hospital.
One patient’s mother, Becky Garza, told CNN affiliate WSBT how much Waldo helped her daughter, “When she woke up in the morning she said, ‘Where’s Waldo? Where’s Waldo?’ That helped a lot. Just knowing that she was more focused on that than focused on treatments.”
Patient Neveah Garza told WSBT that she has a message for Haney.
“Thank you for building Waldo and for being happy. Thank you for making me happy.”