He started with one small bicycle light.
In 2010, Brosnihan had made a special connection with a teenage boy who was a long-term patient there. On the boy’s final night at the hospital, Brosnihan asked his young friend to look out of his room window after he left. Specifically, he asked him to focus on a certain corner near a bus stop.
After saying goodbye, Brosnihan road his bike to that corner, stopped, turned to look toward the boys’ window and flashed his bike light so his friend could see where he was. The boy surprised Brosnihan when he flickered his room light on and off in response. It was a beautiful, very special final goodbye. Little did anyone know that it would electrify an entire movement.
Brosnihan thought maybe other kids would enjoy it.
“From a quarter mile away it was very evident where the kid was,” Brosnihan told Reader’s Digest in an interview. Then a light bulb also flashed in Brosnihan’s mind. “I figured if it worked once I could do it again,” he said.
For the next five years, Brosnihan would flicker his lights at that same corner as a special goodbye to all of his young friends. And after those five years, Brosnihan had another light bulb moment. He had a friend who worked at a nearby restaurant that he would often use as a marker to explain to kids where they should look for him out of their windows.
The bright lights would really get the kids attention!
The Hot Club restaurant had a neon sign, and he asked his friend to ask his boss if he would join him in flickering that sign as well. His friend did ask, and the Hot Club owner agreed to flicker their lights for one minute every night at 8:30 pm.
The Hot Club found its customers joining in, flashing their cell phones during that same minute. It was an unexpected success born of the purest of intentions and soon became a nightly tradition. This ignited yet another idea. Why not ask others to do the same? Imagine the kids’ reaction to a one-minute mini-Vegas style greeting each night!
It became known as the “Good Night Lights Project.”
“[Brosnihan] seems to be a very shy guy,” said David Levesque, Director of Media Relations at Lifespan, a group of hospitals that includes Hasbro Children’s Hospital. “He’s willing to walk into places downtown and strike up a conversation and try to recruit these folks.”
Now there are more than twenty official participants, including some who installed big lighted beams that sit atop their buildings! That’s pretty incredible, considering the project is completely volunteered.
Even those who commit are not obligated to participate every single night, but most do. Brosnihan told Reader’s Digest, “It would be very hard not to do this once you start. You do it to represent how much you care for kids and families in hospitals and going through hard times. If you stop, it’s a statement that I’m not caring as much.”
“It would be very hard not to do this once you start.”
Many individuals, families, and community organizations have united in this celebratory gesture as well. Apartment dwellers that have a view of the hospital flicker their lights, and people line the shore of the Providence River flashing theirs. Even local police departments parade together, using their emergency lights to say ‘hello, we care,’ on Mondays and Wednesday evenings.
“It’s people stepping away from their everyday schedule at night and taking part of this,” said Levesque.
“The younger kids think it’s magic, while older ones find it touching to know someone cares, says Brosnihan. “The most wonderful reactions are kids who are truly surprised that people are taking even a minute to do something for them just because they’re in the hospital,” he says.
“Kids say, ‘I can’t believe someone is taking the time to do that for me.’”
This tradition doesn’t seem to have any chance of stopping anytime soon. In fact, it’s growing. A manufacturer based in Portland, Oregon, COAST Products, found out that Brosnihan was using their brand of flashlight to give to people, so they reached out to help and sent flashlights for free, which are bright enough to beam light for two miles.
“That’s been a big part of this,” Brosnihan explained.
“It inspired gestures of caring and generosity.”
Brosnihan’s idea has inspired similar programs elsewhere. The police in Orlando, Florida, started their own initiative there.
“In my grander dreams, [I hope] other cities that have children’s hospitals pick up the idea and run with it and create their own version of Good Night Lights,” Brosnihan said.
“It could happen anywhere if someone is willing to give it a try with one light.”
If you ever find yourself in Providence, RI around 8:30 pm, flash whatever lights you can: flashlights, cell phones, hotel room lights, etc. You won’t be alone. Neither will the children and families at Hasbro Children’s Hospital.
Watch the video below:
Source: An Entire City Follows the Sweetest Nightly Ritual to Cheer Up Sick Kids in Local Hospital by Reader’s Digest and City Cheers Up Sick Kids With Good Night Lights by Associated Press on YouTube.