Beaming with love: ‘Stay strong, Lischelle’

Ironworker/uncle Richard Hayes painted the message for his niece

Ironworker Richard Hayes painted an encouraging message on a steel beam placed in the new OHSU Knight Cancer Research building, August 2017 (Courtesy: Richard Hayes)
Ironworker Richard Hayes painted an encouraging message on a steel beam placed in the new OHSU Knight Cancer Research building, August 2017 (Courtesy: Richard Hayes)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Lischelle Shipton got quite a surprise when she looked out her window at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. There was a special message with her name on the new Knight Cancer Research Building currently being built in the South Waterfront area.

The 20-year-old from Albany is battling leukemia and her uncle went above and beyond to bring a smile to her face.

Richard Hayes is an ironworker who painted an encouraging message on a steel beam for his niece, a patient at Doernbecher Hospital, September 21, 2017 (KOIN)
Richard Hayes is an ironworker who painted an encouraging message on a steel beam for his niece, a patient at Doernbecher Hospital, September 21, 2017 (KOIN)

“I’m a union ironworker,” Richard Hayes told KOIN 6 News. “My day is the steel skeleton structure of the building.”

It’s the second cancer building he’s helped build and he said working on it “feels pretty good. We’ve had a lot of cancer in our family.”

About a year ago, he said, his niece Lischelle had her first round of treatment for leukemia. “I think last month she started her other one and she was up there (in the hospital) and I just wanted to make her smile. She’s got a beautiful smile and a kind heart.”

He had an idea: he wanted to write a message on a steel beam that she could see from her hospital room.

“I got with her mom and told her, ‘Hey, don’t tell her, but this is what I’m going to do,'” Hayes said. His boss at Raimore Construction gave him the go-ahead and told him what beam was going to be placed in that spot on the 8th floor.

Lischelle Shipton, 20, is battling leukemia. Her uncle painted a steel beam with encouraging words she could see from her hospital room (Undated courtesy photo)
Lischelle Shipton, 20, is battling leukemia. Her uncle painted a steel beam with encouraging words she could see from her hospital room (Undated courtesy photo)

“My wife got the spray paint and we laid it down,” he said.

He said he did it just to get her to smile.

“She loved it.”

The hard-hatted ironworker said he was “a little teary eyed.”

“Oh, I was just sweating real bad that day,” he said with a big smile.

The beam — which went up Aug. 23 — for Lischelle will always be part of the new OHSU Knight Cancer Research building. Hayes said the beam will be covered over, “but it will always be there, so that’s cool.”

Lischelle is home now but will be heading to Seattle soon for more treatment. Her uncle said “it’s rough but she’s a fighter.”

Richard Hayes knows what he wants for his neice.

“Just to keep fighting, keep smiling. She’s got a beautiful smile, a good heart.”

A YouCaring page has been created to help Lischelle and her family cover medical costs.

Ironworker Richard Hayes painted an encouraging message on a steel beam placed in the new OHSU Knight Cancer Research building, August 2017 (Courtesy: Richard Hayes)
Ironworker Richard Hayes painted an encouraging message on a steel beam placed in the new OHSU Knight Cancer Research building, August 2017 (Courtesy: Richard Hayes)