TACOMA -- Students at a Pierce County high school are on a mission to put smiles on the faces of sick children. Their work in wood shop and art class is paying off, allowing the patients of Tacoma's Mary Bridge Children's Hospital and other area hospitals to have some fun.
The students are busy making "lily pads." The pads are cut from a piece of wood and painted. They are designed to be placed on the base of IV poles as a seats that turn into an adventure.
When 5-year-old James is on his lily pad, he's no longer a kid battling diabetes. He becomes his favorite super hero.
"Captain America," shouts James. "He throws his shields."
At Mary Bridge, there's a pad design for just about everyone thanks to more than a dozen students from Auburn Riverside High School.
"I was excited to see who would get mine and how happy it would make them," said recent Riverside graduate Hannah Juth.
Her classmate, Frank Marquez, shares that excitement.
"It makes me feel really good inside that they're using them," said Marquez.
The lily pads were the dream of a 17-year-old cancer patient named Nick Konkler.
"Nick was never afraid to dream," said Nick's dad Vince.
Family friend Kayla Pittman says Nick always wanted to make sure everyone else was comfortable, even when he was suffering.
"He was going to buy one of our friends a truck because he was worried he was driving his old car too much," said Pittman. "He always cared about everybody else. Always. He never really complained. He just always wanted to do things for other people. He was pretty amazing."
Nick went to Riverside and was looking forward to creating the lily pads -- one of his own and others for children at the hospitals where he received treatment.
Nick didn't live long enough to see his idea come to life.
"At one point he said, 'Have I made an impact?'" Nick's mom Christina said. "For a 17-year-old kid to ask that question, it's pretty amazing that he was worried that he hadn't made an impact. He would be in love with this project. This would be a very big source of pride for him."
Nick's family knows even the little things can make a big difference. They call the lily pads a "bright spot" in the children's day.
It gives the kids like little James one more reason to smile -- a way to lift their spirits. It's a special kind of treatment that medicine can't offer.
The lily pads are made possible by support from the "See Ya Later" Foundation, Lowe's and other donations. The pads now available at children's hospitals throughout the Seattle metro area.