Construction worker Jason Haney is a foreman at a construction site just across from Memorial Children’s Hospital in South Bend, Indiana where he is working on an expansion. Knowing the children were in need of entertainment and something to look forward to, he created an 8-foot tall Waldo to hide on the construction site somewhere new each day. The children were challenged to a life-sized game of Where’s Waldo every morning.
The project has been so successful that his pint-sized participants have created a Facebook page where they photograph themselves looking for and finding Waldo. When everyone has found him, Haney moves him to a new top secret location and the whole thing starts all over again.
“I love it. I think it’s helping their treatment, taking their mind off what’s going on, even for a little bit.”
Through his small act of kindness, Haney has gotten to know some of the children personally and calls their reactions to his daily shenanigans “humbling.”
Haney was inspired to create his life-sized Waldo due to the fact that his own daughter spent several weeks in the hospital after suffering from a rare stroke at age 3. Because of the uniqueness of her case, she had to be sent to a hospital over 2.5 hours away from her parents, meaning Haney sometimes spent the night and sometimes had to leave her there alone. This kind of activity helps the kids both have something to look forward to and pass the time.
Becky Garza, the mother of one of the patients, has said that the life-sized Waldo search has immensely helped her daughter.
Garza told the local CNN affiliate:
“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.”
Garza’s daughter told the same CNN affiliate that she had a message for Haney for all of his hard work:
“Thank you for building Waldo and for being happy. Thank you for making me happy.”
Anna Scanlon is an author of YA and historical fiction and a PhD student at the University of Leicester where she is finishing her degree in modern history.