As Stefanie Bergunder walked towards a hospital in Carmel, Indiana, she spotted a man feeding some birds by the entrance, and her excitement surged.
“I wanted to join him in checking out the birds and [feeding] them.”
As she approached, Stefanie noticed that the man appeared to be releasing a bird, but it didn’t move from his hand, causing her concern. However, when a passing car moved, she realized that it was actually a statue.
The whole scene became clear to her – the “guy” was standing in the snow wearing a tank top and shorts, and the other birds around him didn’t fly away.
Stefanie felt disappointed that it wasn’t real because she had wanted to feed the birds and learn about the story behind the bird’s release. She pretended not to head his way and went into the building instead.
“I realized it was a statue after a car moved. I was able to see the whole scene, and the ‘guy’ was standing in snow wearing a tank top and shorts, at which point I saw the other birds around him that didn’t fly away either.”
“I was actually pretty bummed it wasn’t real because I wanted to feed the birds too and find out the story of how or why he was releasing the bird.”
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Feeling somewhat embarrassed, Bergunder couldn’t shake off how convincing the statue had looked. To gauge whether others shared her reaction, she shared a photo of the statue online, and the response from others was unanimous.
“People have truly thought it was a real guy in the pictures, especially because I took pictures from two different angles, so it appears that he was in motion.”
Curious about the statue, Bergunder decided to research the artist behind it, J. Seward Johnson, and found out that he had created numerous other lifelike statues in different locations. The particular statue she encountered was called “Sharing Hope,” and it was created to commemorate the life of Joe Schwarz, who died in March 2018 from throat cancer.
The sculpture was donated to the hospital’s cancer center by Joe’s wife, Shelly Schwarz, along with a $10 million contribution in memory of her late husband.
“A quote of [the artist’s] is, ‘It’s easy sometimes to forget the simple things that give us pleasure. If we open our eyes, life is marvelous.’ Something as simple as feeding some birds doesn’t seem like much, but when you really think about it, it’s really a beautiful moment.”
Although initially disappointed that the man and his birds were not real, Bergunder ultimately didn’t mind being fooled. She was just grateful to have witnessed a beautiful moment that had been captured and immortalized in time for all to enjoy.