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Sharp Health News

1,000 cranes and 1 wish to end the pandemic

April 16, 2021

Mari Pitts folded 1,000 origami cranes to make her wish of ending the COVID-19 pandemic come true.
According to Japanese legend, anyone who folds 1,000 origami cranes will be granted a wish by the gods. Cranes are thought to be mystical creatures and are said to live for 1,000 years, so one crane is folded for each year.

Since she learned of the legend in second grade, San Diego resident Mari Pitts knew that she wanted to fold her own paper cranes one day. So when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Pitts saw no better time to make her wish come true.

"It frustrated me that I couldn't do much to help with the COVID-19 situation," she says. "I always wanted to attempt making 1,000 cranes, and now seemed like the best time to make a huge wish."

So Pitts, who works as a buildings and grounds attendant at the San Diego Zoo, embarked on her journey to fold 1,000 paper cranes with one wish in mind: ending the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mari Pitts strung all 1,000 cranes together - 40 cranes on each of the 25 strings.

Mari Pitts strung all 1,000 cranes together - 40 cranes on each of the 25 strings.

Origami is one of Pitts' hobbies, so she quickly got to work making the cranes, but it was no small feat. She began the project in August 2020 and finished folding them in January 2021; legend says you need to complete the cranes within one year. Then, she strung them all together - 40 cranes on each of the 25 strings. In addition to being a heartfelt symbol of hope, Pitts also wanted the project to have an eco-friendly component, so she made all of the cranes from colorful recycled papers.

After folding all 1,000 cranes, Mari Pitts donated them to Sharp HealthCare.

After folding all 1,000 cranes, Mari Pitts donated them to Sharp HealthCare.

"I used a couple different types of recycled paper, from used gift wrap to my brother's 'Star Wars' calendar pages, and even a few candy wrappers."

After her 5-month labor of love was complete, Pitts decided she would donate the finished product to Sharp HealthCare.

"Sharp has always been special to me. My family has gone to Sharp for more than 22 years," she says.

For Pitts, these cranes are not only a symbol of her wish, but also a way to thank the doctors, nurses and all front-line workers for all that they have done during the pandemic.

"Making these cranes was a way of putting my hope in physical form," says Pitts. "I wanted to donate them so even a little hope can reach those who need it the most."

The cranes are on display in the lobby of Sharp Grossmont Hospital's Intensive Care Unit.

Currently hanging in the lobby of Sharp Grossmont Hospital's Intensive Care Unit, the cranes will appear in other Sharp hospitals.

The cranes are currently on display in the lobby of Sharp Grossmont Hospital's Intensive Care Unit, but will serve as a rotating art display and be shown at other Sharp hospitals.

"After hearing about the cranes coming to us, I walked into work that day and was completely mesmerized by the sight," says Marguerite Paradis, BSN, RN, MHA, director of Emergency Services and Critical Care at Sharp Grossmont Hospital. "It had more of an effect on me than I had ever anticipated. I had to stop and admire the strands of cranes. It was peaceful and filled me with hope."

Pitts feels so proud that her cranes will brighten the day of caregivers, like Paradis, who have given so much of themselves during the past year.

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