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Manager's turkey costume sends spirits soaring

Associates coming to work at the Cancer Center at Ascension Via Christi St. Francis got a big surprise this morning.

They were greeted by Cathy Bird, their manager, dressed head to toe as a turkey, who was there to take their temperatures, hand out snacks and offer them a joke for the day.

"We all just need to have some laughter," says Bird. "These have been stressful times for everyone and laughter can be a powerful medicine for staff and patients."

Her team was initially surprised to be met at the door by someone in a turkey costume, but quickly realized it was Bird.

"She's about the shortest person in the building, so we recognized her even in the costume and mask," says Lisa Schmidt, oncology nurse navigator, adding that she and co-worker Kayla Frazier both had a great belly laugh when they saw her. "Cathy tells us jokes as she comes in every day. We appreciate her so much because she always lifts everyone's spirits."

Having everyone start their day laughing was the goal, says Bird, who learned the value of humor in the workplace from her late father, Leroy Bird, who owned a steakhouse in North Bend, Nebraska, and employed lots of young workers, including her.

"He always had a joke and would make us laugh," says Bird. "He made it so much fun to be there that even kids who weren't on the clock would drop by just to say 'hi.'"

Bird says she bought the turkey suit online after she realized that the larger Thanksgiving celebration with the team wasn't possible because of COVID-19 precautions. While she hopes that COVID-19 won't be around next Thanksgiving, she's planning to make the costume an annual tradition.

"I'm also thinking about wearing it to meet my son's new girlfriend."

About Roz Hutchinson

Roz Hutchinson is a Wichita wife, mother and chief spoiler of six grandkids and three Chihuahuas, a die-hard women's basketball fan, and director of Communications and Public Relations for Ascension Via Christi.