CREATED Feb. 20, 2013
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- A Las Vegas man is making Las Vegas a better place to live one year after his death.
We first featured Ernie Devald three years ago. The full-time volunteer at St. Rose Seinna's pediatric ward was battling inoperable prostate cancer. He spent his days making sick kids smile and he's still making Las Vegas a better place to live.
Kids stuck in the hospital have a new treasure chest packed with toys and games courtesy of Ernie Devald, who died one year ago.
Ernie's daughter Stacey Devald-Wedding says, "It brought him so much joy. It gave him his life's purpose. If he didn't volunteer here he wouldn't have fulfilled his life's purpose."
Ernie's bride of 36 years and daughter, Stacey, wanted to honor him one year after his passing. And since this is how and where he spent his last few years they knew he'd want them to do something for the kids at St. Rose Sienna.
Debbie Devald remembers, "The doors to the pediatric department would open. Ernie was coming down the hall singing Elvis songs. When he got to the nurses station, he started dancing like Elvis. There was always laughter when he was around. "
When Ernie was alive, he spent his retirement here. Writing poems, going on ice cream runs, doing whatever he could to make kids smile. And since he was battling cancer too, he really did understand their pain.
In 2010 Ernie told Action News, "I think God sent me here. I was supposed to pass away. I'm outliving all these death predictions. I'm getting my strength from these kids."
And he did. Ernie lived years longer than doctors expected. Actually, he still lives every time a child opens his chest, digs for a treasure, and escapes the hospital reality. A beautiful legacy from Ernie's girls. It's exactly what Ernie would've wanted.
Stacey says, "We came up on the year anniversary of his passing and someone reached out and asked where he'd been buried. this is a year after he passed and he left this footprint on this child's heart."
There will NEVER be another Ernie. The kids and staff at St. Rose loved him dearly. But Ernie would want someone else to take over where he left off. If you have a love for children and perhaps you are retired, like Ernie, consider volunteering in the Pediatric department at St. Rose. Nothing would make him happier.