Window Washers Give Children's Hospital Patients a Superhero's Surprise

Being sick in a hospital can be scary, especially when you're young and have an imagination that tends to run wild.

So imagine being in bed and dreaming of your favorite superheroes who fly up to your hospital room's window to keep you safe.

Now imagine waking up from the dream only to find a real-life Spiderman and Captain America at your real-life window outside your real-life hospital room.

That's exactly what happened to the young patients at the Le Bonheur Children's Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., this month, thanks to the ingenious, and generous, idea of the men who have been washing the 255-bed hospital's windows for years.

"The kids always come up to the window and ask us, 'Are you Spiderman?'" Steve Oszaniec, a 23-year employee of the Chicago-based American National Skyline window cleaning company, told today. "So I came up with the idea of, 'Why don't we just show up as Spiderman?'"

With the plan hatched, Oszaniec, son Danny Oszaniec and their colleague, Jordan Emerson, pitched the idea to their boss, Sean Conley, in the company's Memphis office and to hospital administrators, who all quickly said yes.

The trio then purchased their costumes - two Spiderman suits and one Captain America - and Oct. 17 turned the hospital into a scene straight out of a comic book.

"We just went there, put them on and went up," Oszaniec said. "They [hospital staff] brought a lot of the kids to the little family room there so they could see us. It was unbelievable. They just totally forgot they were sick for a minute. They were just ecstatic about it."

Oszaniec, who describes himself in real-life as "more Captain Old Country than Captain America," says the dressed-up superheroes also shot silly string as they repelled up and down the 12-story hospital building for four hours to make their Spiderman takeover even more life-like.

Hospital administrators say what Oszaniec and his colleagues did was, all jokes aside, truly heroic.

"It's a real thing," hospital spokeswoman Sara Burnett said of the use of out-of-the-box therapies like this one to help kids heal. "When a child's mind gets off their pain and their sickness, it makes them heal, it makes them relax and it helps them recover and get better quicker."

The hospital, which treats about 250,000 kids from all across the country with all different ailments every year, has its own Child Life Department to coordinate fun activities for kids and says the window washers-as-superheroes will be welcomed back.

"Based on the success, I'm sure we'll look into doing it again," Burnett said. "I've already had a request for Batman."

As for Oszaniec and his crew, they too say they would love to make a super-heroic return to the hospital, but today they'll go back to normal, but still surely superheroes in the kids' imaginations.

"We're going back this afternoon as mild-mannered window cleaners," Oszaniec said.