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Jefferson Award winner brightens the spirits of sick children

Steve Brosnihan, a 2018 Jefferson Award winner, came up with the idea for Good Night Lights at Hasbro Children's Hospital. (WJAR)

The Jefferson Awards honor citizens who do extraordinary things for their community. 2018 winner Steve Brosnhian has a unique way of brightening the spirits of children in the hospital.

Steve Brosnihan pays the bills with artwork.

"I'm a professional cartoonist," he said.

He also makes smiles. Brosnihan is the resident cartoonist at Hasbro Children's Hospital.

"I'm someone who works at the hospital with exterior funding," he said. "I draw there to amuse children and distract them from the stresses and the anxiety of the hospital environment."

"If I can walk out of a room where a kid is smiling as opposed to when I walked in and they weren't, then I feel like I did something useful," Brosnihan said.

One night in 2010, he had a bright idea. Brosnihan went to say good night to a patient by flashing a light from the street.

"Then his room light flashed on and off, and at point I thought, hey, wait a minute. We just had a communication here that could probably continue to happen. There are other patients I could see," Brosnihan said.

Brosnihan eventually got businesses involved and in 2015, what's now known as Good Night Lights was born.

"I didn't anticipate it growing to the point it is now," he said.

Every night at 8:30, a magic minute when people say goodnight to Hasbro patients while they signal back.

Now, more than 30 businesses and organizations participate regularly.

"I'm lucky enough to be in the hospital two nights a week when the signal occurs. I hear the kids. I hear the squeals. I see the kids bouncing around trying to get the flashlight while trying to get to the window. I also see parents and grandparents crying, with joy," Brosnihan said.

Brosnihan said he hopes the concept spreads to other hospitals and cities. He's also involved with the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in Connecticut that seriously ill kids can attend for free.

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