As families across the nation came together to exchange gifts, share a holiday meal, and spend time together, first responders made sure young patients at a children's hospital in Ohio were remembered this Christmas. Although they couldn't be home with their loved ones for the holidays, families who were at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus were treated to a festive, holiday light show.
Ahead of Christmas Day, more than 70 first-responder vehicles gathered at the Columbus Police Training Academy in West Columbus, CNN reported. From there, the parade of police cruisers and fire trucks traveled to Nationwide Children's Hospital to put on an extra-special light show — all to lift the spirits of children who would be spending the holiday there. The first responders ended up lining Livingston Avenue from Parsons Avenue to 18th Street, according to ABC6. A quick look on Google Maps reveals that, essentially, the entire length of the hospital building was packed with flashing lights.
“These are children obviously that aren’t going to possibly be home for the holidays," Chief Jim Gilbert with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, told ABC6. "So if we can do anything to brighten their spirits, have them look down and see those lights and know that law enforcement, public safety is here to support them, it means a lot to them. It means a lot to us.”
As the first-responder vehicles lined up outside of the hospital, crowds gathered nearby and kids and their parents watched the light show from the windows of hospital rooms.
“Surprisingly, we put it out just as a suggestion and everyone as you can see you know from agencies across central Ohio came together. It was all them,” said Bill Swank, the founder of Light Ohio Blue, told ABC6. (Light Ohio Blue is an organization that supports law enforcement and honors fallen officers.)
People on social media loved the idea of lighting up the spirits of kids stuck in a hospital the week of Christmas. One Facebook user commented, "Prayers for every child, parent, worker. Thank you for what you do. The time spent away from your own families. Merry Christmas."
Another person wrote on Facebook, "Thank you for lighting up their spirits. Merry Christmas kid's & Officers."
A Twitter user wrote, "How cool is this??? Law enforcement across Central Ohio came to @nationwidekids to make the season bright for the kiddos."
It's worth noting this type of holiday event has been pulled off at other children's hospitals, too. On Christmas Eve in 2018, for example, first responders in Michigan showed up at Dayton Children's Hospital to put on a similar light show. And ahead of Thanksgiving this year, first responders lined up to light up the night for kids at Golisano Children's Hospital in Rochester, New York.
Personally, I love this idea. As much of a bummer as it must be to be stuck in a hospital over the holidays with a sick kiddo, I would imagine a special light show might offer a festive distraction. I know I would be comforted to know others were thinking about me and my sick little one during the holidays.