Artist with autism makes balloon sculptures to thank essential workers
(CNN) -- The coronavirus pandemic has spurred an outpouring of gratitude for frontline workers. One New Jersey man is using his "ausome" talent to dish out balloons filled with joy.
22-year-old Eddie Lin is a balloon artist with autism who makes elaborate sculptures to honor essential workers. His work has caught the attention of people across the country.
"I think it gives people inspiration to see that even someone who has special needs knows the word 'appreciation' and shows gratitude in his own special way," said his mother, Jenny Lin.
Eddie, who goes by the name "Ausome Balloon Creator," was diagnosed with autism at the age of 3. By the time he was 10, he'd taught himself how to make impressive balloon sculptures using YouTube tutorials. He has since turned that hobby into a lucrative business.
An affinity for 'heroes'
Eddie has a fondness of superheroes; Marvel superheroes, to be exact. But to him, there are plenty of heroes without capes.
"In his head, people who go above and beyond, those are heroes," his mother said in an interview with CNN. The family lives in Edison.
"He goes to the doctor's office and everybody who helps him, he calls them all 'doctors,'" she explained.
Even the family housekeeper gets a bouquet of balloon flowers when she makes his bed.
Eddie's first sculpture for an essential worker went out to his friend's mother, whom he was trying to cheer up. On a FaceTime call, Kay Mastrocola mentioned her mom was stressed out in her role as a manager at their local grocery store.
"She says, 'Eddie, what do you think you could do to cheer my mom up?'" explained Lin. "Eddie did exactly what he's good at."
He made a shopping cart with the simple message that said, "Thank you."
A simple gesture, powerful meaning
The gesture made its way to social media, and from there, Eddie's thank you campaign took off.
He now has made balloon sculptures for mail carriers...
Health care workers...
And police officers.
Eddie's small business initially focused on making balloon art for special events, such as birthdays on the weekend. Now, he is flooded with paid requests to create similar appreciative gestures throughout the week. Some can take up to 10 minutes to make.
"Balloons just give people that sense of joy and happiness," said Jenny Lin.
"It's especially important at this time to show our appreciation to the people who sacrifice their family time, and put themselves in danger just to provide for us," she went on to say.
Eddie works part time at the local library, and his mother says balloon art has helped him connect with people despite his autism.
"It definitely helps him, the sense of talking to people. It also boosts his self-esteem," said his mother.
"It's something he is good at, and he is proud of it."
She hopes that seeing his story will inspire others to be kind and express gratitude.
"These people wouldn't do their jobs any differently with or without the thank you," she said.
"But, it's human nature to want to feel appreciated."
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