Orlando pediatric patients gifted Christmas in July joy by rappelling first responders

Police, firefighters rappelled down AdventHealth building to spread positive messages to young patients

First responders rappelled down the side of the hospital in Orlando to surprise kids.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Orlando firefighters and police officers teamed up with AdventHealth Tuesday to spread summer cheer to patients and families.

During a Christmas in July event, teams rappelled down the side of the hospital and carried signs with encouraging messages to share with child patients at their windows.

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Orlando Fire District Chief Spencer Bashinski helped organize the event, which was first brought to the hospital in 2021.

“This brief time that we’re here, it allows them to take their mind off of whatever battle, whatever struggle that they’re going through and hopefully put a smile on their face with a little bit of Christmas cheer in the middle of the summer,” Bashinski said.

Patients who were able to come outside were greeted by mounted police patrol and Nessie, the fire department’s arson detection canine.

“I think there is no greater joy than seeing a smile on a child’s face,” Bashinski said. “So, for our members, this is a very rewarding opportunity.”

Santa also paid a visit wearing his summer gear and took a ride in the fire department ladder truck to wave to patients.

The event was also used as a training exercise to give rescue teams a chance to work together while rappelling down a multi-story building.

“We train on this year-round, but anytime we can go to an actual building like this and conduct those operations, it is good for our organization,” Bashinski said.

Officials said a similar event is held each winter in collaboration with Orange County.

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Mark Lehman became a News 6 reporter in July 2014, but he's been a Central Florida journalist and part of the News 6 team for much longer. While most people are fast asleep in their bed, Mark starts his day overnight by searching for news on the streets of Central Florida.