You may not know it by the tone of many of the articles I've written on here, but I am an inherently optimistic person. I really am. No matter how many times I am disappointed in the results of humanity's action, fate is usually kind enough to present me with incredible possibilities in the realm of human kindness.
Let's take the saddest thing possible... sick children. I mean kids staying in the hospital for weeks at a time under the influence of genetic mishaps or tragic accidents. You'll be hard-pressed to find a group of people more in need of cheering up, in addition to being an audience that is harder to please than most. A 3DS isn't going to cut it in this case, so you'll need to up the ante.
That's when some celebrities step in to turn a hospital stay into something that will be the envy of their more well peers for years and years to come. Today, we salute the entertainment elite that gave back a little in the best way possible.
In 2008, Johnny Depp was called away from the set of Sweeney Todd when his nine-year-old daughter Lily-Rose went into apparent kidney failure as a result of an E.coli poisoning incident. Depp and his then-partner Vanessa Paradis stood by like any worried set of parents as the staff at Great Ormond Street Hospital nursed their child back to full recovery. A grateful Depp donated more than a million dollars to the hospital as thanks, but he wasn't done.
In 2009, he was back in London doing press junkets for Public Enemies when he had a brilliant idea. Dressed in full costume as Captain Jack Sparrow he dropped by the children's ward once more, and spent the evening reading bedtime stories to enthralled youngsters. It's not the last time he did something like that, either. In response to a fan letter from a young girl named Beatrice Delap asking Captain Jack to visit the school. Depp was once again down, and swept into Meridian Primary School in 210 virtually unannounced to take picture with Delap and her friends.
Paul Bussiere, a help desk attendant at the Eastern Maine Medical Center, isn't a celebrity. Just a regular guy like you and me, except that his hobby is awesome and he makes us look like cold-hearted lazy bastards.
Bussiere was a fan of Star Wars, and one day he and a friend got into a discussion on how exactly R2-D2 worked. Bussiere decided to find out by building the famous robot and hero of the Rebel Alliance starting with nothing but a screwdriver and hammer. It took most of a year for him to get it right, but once he did he had a more or less perfect replication.
Then he got to thinking. His godson had passed away from cancer in the pediatric center of the very same hospital he worked at more than a decade prior to starting his hobby, and he always felt like the care his godson had received deserved some form of paying it forward. R2-D2 was the answer.
Bussiere regularly brings the Lucasfilm-authorized replica of America's favorite robotic celebrity to the hospital for special visits. His model replicates many authentic sounds of the character, and last I heard he was working on pulling off the classic holographic projection.
Two things you need to know about six-year-old Zachary. He has leukemia, and he is a big fan of the Hellboy movies. That in and of itself is comforting because it means I'm not the only parent showing young children vastly inappropriate films for their age group, but hang on to your pectorals because your heart is about to grow three sizes.
Make-a-Wish became involved in Zachary's life and asked him what he wanted the most in the world. His answer was to meet Hellboy. Well, because of the nature of the costume you could put anyone in it and probably fulfill the wish, but that would be a mistake because I've seen Ron Perlman in person and he has no problem bitch-slapping your ass out of a cosplay get-up when there are young souls to embiggen.
Yep, Perlman insisted on undergoing the four hours it takes to transform him into Hellboy just so he could go hang out with the kid. He even got Zachary the chance to undergo the make-up process himself. So the next time you're watching Perlman crack skulls on Sons of Anarchy, remember this story.
You don't know the name Jim Cummings, but you've heard his voice. Myself, he's the voice of Pyscrow and Bob the Killer Goldfish in Earthworm Jim, but he is best knows as the modern voice of Winnie the Pooh and Tigger. There has not been a more wholesome and good-hearted profession since being a milkman in a 1950s television show, and finding out that Cummings is just as warm and generous as you'd expect probably isn't a surprise.
Cummings, like Perlman, got his start on his hospital charity work through the Make-a-Wish Foundation, and makes many calls using his Winnie the Pooh voice to enchant kids on the other end of a telephone line. And brother, does he get some tearjerking results.
One child Cummings called was dying of cancer and hadn't laughed in six months. He had her giggling and smiling within seconds. Or then there's the autistic boy who asked Cummings to perform various characters for more than an hour. His mother later told Cummings that the boy had never spoken at such length in his entire life. One guy with a phone works more magic than the entire Harry Potter universe, and yet it's still not number one.
I was originally told this story by Stevie Jean Reed on the Punky Moms forum, and it is the greatest thing I have ever heard. I even wrote a song about it. I've spent the better part of four years trying to get it confirmed by Halford, but until he tells me different I am going to assume it is true.
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In San Diego a friend of Reed's was working as a hairdresser, and he would regularly see Rob Halford walking back and forth in front of his shop during the day in a massive leather trenchcoat. One day, Reed's friend stopped Halford and asked him why he wore such a heavy coat in California weather.
Halford looked right, looked left, then opened his coat to reveal it was full to bursting of small stuffed animals. Apparently the bar that Halford favored down the street had a crane machine that he had become somewhat addicted to. Not to mention very good at. The problem was, once he was done he was left with a mound of cute stuffed animals, which a metal god really has no use for.
His answer was to hide the animals in his coat, walk past Reed's friend's shop, and anonymously donate them at the closest children's hospital.
Picture that. I mean really picture it. Rob Halford, the man who sang "Breaking the Law" and "Hellbent for Leather" stealing ninja-like through the streets of San Diego to leave something to cuddle with for sick kids. If that story doesn't restore you faith in humanity, then congratulations lizard-person on mastering the Internet.