MEMPHIS, TN - (WMC-TV) – A symbol of hope for so many St. Jude patients has been ripped away from a longtime hospital nurse. Now he has launched a search for the irreplaceable mementos.
Ron Hardin loves his job.
"I'm a blessed man because I found my niche," he says.
He's a registered nurse in the medicine room at St. Jude.
"I'm sort of affectionately known in the medicine room as the bracelet man," Hardin said.
12 years ago, patients started giving him their inspirational rubber wristbands. When they no longer fit on his arm, he rigged them to the fanny pack he wears every day.
"You can't get within about this much margin of me on the left side without me bumping into you with bracelets," Hardin said.
Trey Erwin gave him one. His collection totals 260. He considers each a blessing.
"I was thinking about one that has Big Ben on it, a green one," he said.
And easily recalls the story behind every single one.
"This one's from DeNae. Baby Matthew who's fighting his fight right now," he explained. "My very first one, it was a transplant patient and it said transplant is a team sport. Over the next year-and-a-half we lost her."
But the few on his wrist are all he has left after someone broke into his SUV in the Park Plaza Centre parking lot and stole his fanny pack with the bracelets still attached.
"Yeah, it, it, it hurt," he said. "Quite a few," he answered when asked if he shed a few tears.
"I've got a lot of heart in those bracelets and my families do too."
Hardin printed flyers, posted them around town and added it to his Facebook page. He's accustomed to daily miracles in the medicine room. Now he's holding out hope those keepsakes aren't gone forever.
"If I never get the bracelets back I still have them in my heart, but uh...(It'd be) beyond my wildest dreams if they were returned."
Because while these wristbands may not be worth much, Hardin says they're the most valuable accessories money can't buy.
If you find those wristbands or know where they might be, Hardin asks you please call him at (901) 605-7863.