We all need an encouraging word or a kind conversation now and then, and patients in hospitals usually need those sorts of things more than most of us. Support means so much coming from a loved one, but there’s something unique about it coming from a stranger.

Aidan Knaus is a 13-year-old boy who loves volunteering at the VA Medical Center in St. Cloud, Minnesota. He spends time with the patients there and pushes them in their wheelchairs outside or helps get them to different activities within the center. No matter where they’re going or what they’re doing, Aidan and the patient he’s with are in constant conversation, which is a huge accomplishment for Aidan since he has a developmental disability and high-functioning autism (conversation and social skills are often a challenge for those with autism). Aidan loves to ask questions and listen to patients’ stories, and the fact that he’s always busy and in demand during his volunteer hours means they enjoy their time with him just as much as he does!

Aidan, thank you for your committment and dedication to the patients at the VA Medical Center. You are an inspiration for all of us to be kind to one another, even and especially the members of our communities that we may not even know.

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