AMERICAN FORK — Going to the emergency room can be a scary thing for a child, but one hospital security guard is making things a little easier for the young patients.
Peter Mills has worked the overnight shift at American Fork Hospital for the past seven years. In that time, he's seen a lot of scared kids come into the ER. He's found a way to combine both his love of collecting toy cars and making children smile.
"The kids just love it when he gives them a car. They just light up," said nurse Diane Warburton. "He's this big scary guy, but then he hands them a little car. It just makes their day."
The kids just love it when he gives them a car. They just light up. He's this big scary guy, but then he hands them a little car. It just makes their day.
–Nurse Diane Warburton
Each night at work, Mills goes above and beyond his job description. At the beginning of every shift, he starts by lining up some of his beloved toy cars, getting them ready for any sick boy or girl that might come through the door.
"I'm a car guy," Mills said. "It's plain and simple. I love cars. The big ones, the little ones, the toy ones, the real ones."
But it's the toy ones that have made him a favorite among the nurses.
"He's all rough on the exterior, but he's a soft marshmallow on the inside," Warburton said.
Parents appreciate the thoughtfulness, too.
Cindy Fisher is the mother of a young patient who received a car from Mills. Both mother and daughter were moved by the gesture.
"That he would come in with cars is just awesome, because she loves cars," Fisher said.
Mills says it was his own bad experience visiting the emergency room as a child that inspired him.
"When you give a kid one and he really enjoys it, makes him feel better for a while, that's a pretty kindness. You can spend a lot more and not get that kind of smile." Peter Mills
"Back then, they would put you in bed and put you in traction. I was in traction for three weeks," Mills said. "They forgot to feed me a lot. They would put the food beside the bed and walk off."
He wants to make sure every child leaves feeling not just better physically, but emotionally.
Mills estimates he's given away about 300 toy cars. Now that his personal collection is dwindling, he's dipped into his own pockets. So far, he's spent about $300 to keep up the tradition.
"When you give a kid one and he really enjoys it, makes him feel better for a while. ... That's a pretty kindness. You can spend a lot more and not get that kind of smile," Mills said.
If you would like to donate toward the cause, you can do so through the *Utah Valley Healthcare Foundation.
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