What started as a Halloween costume has turned into a annual project for one local man. Joe Herr is better known as Sean Patrick this time of year. You may have seem him around town dressed as a leprechaun. Joe is in it for the smiles and nothing more.
“Well hello children, happy St. Patrick's Day to ya!”
Joe Herr is spreading some Celtic cheer.
“Do you want to hear some Irish music?” he asks as he starts to play the harmonica.
And the kids at blessed Sacrament school in Madison couldn't be more excited!
“They just love it!” said principal Maryann Slater.
Every year, Joe goes to schools and children's hospitals dressed as a leprechaun.
“I'm one of Santa's elves cousins,” he explains to the kids.
“It's just a way to give back,” he says. “It's a really cool thing I get to do,”
He's been “going green” for about eight years.
“It just reminds you that life can be magical,” said Joe.
And he does it in memory of his late son Logan.
“Well Logan was my son and he passed away when he was 4-and-a-half years old,”
Logan had cerebral palsy and passed away in 2002. Joe says having a sick child is difficult for everyone.
“Trust me your absolute worst day is the day they hope and pray for,” said Joe. “These families go through a lot,”
And when Joe walks through the door, everyone is happy he's there.
“And this mother literally broke down and cried and she was so grateful because just for 5 minutes, her family was able to forget about the illness they were dealing with,”
Today, these students have plenty of questions:
Where do you live?
“Well I live in a cave instead of a house,” explains Joe.
What's your favorite trick?
“I love turning the toilet water green,” he says to laughter.
How did you get here?
“Well I fly on magic clouds
They even a few wishes.
“Have leprechaun gold? I bet a lot people wish for that.
“Going skydiving, that sounds like a good one
“You wish you had a jet pack?”
“How about you?' A baby cheetah?”
“They have so much energy and imagination and creativity things that you take for granted,” said Joe.
For Joe, it's all about reminding people that no matter how grim things may seem. there's always a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
“How many people say they get to go out and see everybody and put a smile on their face?” he ponders. “I have never had a frown EVER dressed as a leprechaun so to me, I'm the lucky one,”
Joe also started a foundation in his son's memory. It's called Logan's Heart and Smiles. It's a non-profit that helps families with a disabled child build modifications to their home to make life a little bit easier. To learn more about the non-profit, please visit http://www.logansheartandsmiles.org.
Joe works for Tri-North Builders Inc., in Fitchburg.