Ironworkers Forge Bond With Cancer Kids

Group paints children's names on building's beam to honor their cancer fight.

ByABC News
March 6, 2009, 1:59 PM

March 6, 2009— -- A group of Boston ironworkers is building more than just a new cancer treatment center. The ironworkers are sending a powerful message to hundreds of young cancer patients -- one name at a time.

"It was spontaneous. I think one child put their name on a window. One ironworker saw that name, spray painted, 'Hi Kids,' and then that name on a beam -- and it just grew from there," said Michael Walsh, a general foreman with Ironworker Local 7.

As the workers of the union local maneuver the building's heavy iron beams into place, they are being watched by scores of children in the glass walkway at the neighboring Jimmy Fund Clinic, part of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Each day, the children, many of whom are being treated for aggressive cancers, raise signs in a window with their names written on them for the construction workers to see.

"You put your name on a piece of paper and then hold it up to the window and the people will see and then they'll spray paint your name on," said 10-year-old Tommy.

Tommy, whose vision has been restored by chemotherapy treatments at the clinic, knows his name is on a third floor beam.

"Now I know I'm always part of this building," he said.

The workers paint the names of the children on girders in bright-colored spray paint. The patients watch intently and cheer as the I-beams with their first names -- Ryan, Allen, Nolan, Kristen, Giovanni, Patrice, Ronald, Katie, Jacob -- painted brightly on them are hoisted into place for a new building; a building that will later be used by Dana-Farber to treat them.

"Every week when we come, we get something new, something to look forward to," said Tina Fuoco, mother of Nicholas, a 12-year-old Dana-Farber patient.

"Even if they can't see it when it's all complete, they know that their names are in there forever," Nicholas said.