Hollywood actor, two-time Oscar winner and all round awesome human being Tom Hanks has shared a special video for two twins in Ireland.
Hassan and Hussein Benhaffaf were born conjoined in 2009, but were successfully separated a year later following a number of operations, though they still face ongoing health issues.
According to their mum Angie, the twin boys have always had a toy Woody, from Toy Story, which has accompanied them on countless hospital trips and surgeries, though it’s now looking a bit old and worn out.
A local ice-cream parlour owner, who used to work in the US with contacts in the film industry, knew of the twins’ story and their love of Toy Story, decided to contact Hanks on the off-chance he might send a message.
Tom Hanks being Tom Hanks went a step further though, and recorded a video of himself signing two brand new Woody toys, along with writing a letter to the boys, set to the music of You’ve Got a Friend in Me, which he then sent to the twins and their parents.
The ice cream parlour owner, Miceal O’Hurley, told The Irish Times:
We got the video at 3am and my wife Oksana and I sat up in bed in tears. The thoughtfulness. The kindness. The generosity of spirit of his act was extraordinary.
I think what I love about Tom Hanks is that if he wasn’t a mega star, and he was the local guy in the hardware store, he would still go out of his way to be a decent person.
Tom wanted the boys to know that he admires them and wants to be their friend.
Miceal uploaded the video to YouTube and, of course, passed it on to the boys’ parents Angie and Azzedine.
Check it out:
He has got millions of fans. To think that he recognised two little Irish fans enough to write, direct and produce a little film just for them. They will always have this.
Next time the boys are feeling low or stuck in a hospital bed they can flip on a video and be reminded that they are special. This is about lifting their spirits.
Hussein and Hassan were born in 2009, and at the time they were conjoined by a number of body parts, including the liver, gut and bladder, though crucially not the heart.
They underwent a 14-hour surgery in 2010 to separate them, and now each have a prosthetic leg.
The family regularly has to travel to London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital from their hometown of Cork.
If you’d like to donate to their medical costs, you can do so through their GoFundMe page.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.