LOUISVILLE, Ky.(WHAS11) -- Gage Richardson has spent more than half his life undergoing or recovering from multiple brain surgeries, but he's spent even more time volunteering at Kosair Children's Hospital.
At the hospital, he's a household name and Wednesday Richardson was honored for his service.
“I've been on both sides of the curtain, both in the sick bed and as a volunteer. On both sides I’ve gotten the gift of life from Kosair,” Richardson said.
Seventeen-year-old Richardson was diagnosed with hydrocephalus, a condition causing fluid accumulation on the brain, when he was eight. Since then, he's undergone nine brain surgeries.
“Gage has put a lot of time in. He took kind of a bad situation with his health and turned it around,” his mother, Martha Richardson, said.
He turned it around indeed.
“I usually put myself in the person’s position so if I'm sitting in the room and no one comes in, I'm going to be sad. But if someone comes in and shares some of my pain I guess it takes a lot of pain off of me,” Richardson said.
It's a position he's put himself in time and time again; logging more than 700 hours of volunteer work over the last 5 years.
“It's a difficult place to be; I’m not going to lie. Just seeing the kids faces when you go in to play Candy Land or something it completely turns it around,” he said.
Gage's kindness has not gone unnoticed.
“He knows when a kid is in need. He knows how to talk to them; he speaks very well,” Kosair employee Deshaun Grant said.
Gage is the voice of many; he also manages all the teen volunteers at Kosair. Next week, he'll take on another job. He’ll travel to Washington D.C. to speak to Congress on behalf of the children's hospital.
“I’m going to encourage them to keep funding up Medicare and Medicaid to keep the hospital alive,” Richardson said.
For Gage it was a smile someone lent him when he was a patient at Kosair. It's that same smile that Gage lends to others that makes him a leader, mature beyond his years.
“Some of my friends get on me about how I work so much and how I don't get paid but what they don’t understand is that this job, my volunteering job, has a huge salary. You just can't buy anything with it,” Richardson said.
As he leaves for Hanover College this fall, he gives the other volunteers valuable advice.
“When you express love to each other people they can tell. Some of your passion will rub off on them and make their day brighter. That's all you have to do,” Richardson said.
Richardson will share his story on Capitol Hill next week for Family Advocacy Day.
He will attend Hanover College in the fall.