New Castle’s AJ Kirk: Yo-Yo Pro and A.I. DuPont Hospital for Children Patient Escort
The jokester, Team YoYoJam member and jack-of-all-tricks keeps a smile on the faces of patients and their parents, even through the toughest times.
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“Are you playing with Talking Tom?” Kirk says with a cheery tone. “Talking Tom freaks my dog out. He fusses and she fusses back.” (Tom is a virtual cat that repeats what you say, but in a funny voice.)
The girl resists Kirk’s attempts to cheer her. She doesn’t want to see his yo-yo tricks and she refuses to be wheeled in the bed. So her father carries her down the hall, a rolling IV rack in tow.
Kirk continues trying for a laugh, but to no avail. “Are you starting your day off with me?” he asks. “Do you like Folgers in your cup?”
The parents chuckle, but the girl is having none of it. Finally, Kirk grabs a wooden clipboard. “Do you want to see a different trick?” He then balances the clipboard upright on his nose, the bottom edge clinging like a beach ball atop a dolphin’s snout. Everyone in the room is smiling—except the girl.
“Isn’t he crazy?” asks a nurse.
The little girl finally cracks. She begrudgingly smiles and buries her face in her daddy’s chest. The Yo-Yo Man has done it again. And this time, he did it without his trusty yo-yo.
Kirk, a lifelong resident of New Castle, is one of six patient escorts at the hospital, but he’s the only one who can make a yo-yo zip along a maze of string like a hyper monkey slingshotting around a jungle gym.
Kirk, you see, is one of the top yo-yo players in the world. He competes in the 5A division—or freehand as it’s known—and he captured third place in the World Yo Yo Championships in 2006.
In April, Kirk earned his second straight 5A title at the Northeast Regionals and he’s aiming for another appearance in the finals at Worlds in August. He last appeared in the finals (the top 10 players after preliminaries make it) in 2008, but he finished a mere eight points out of the finals at last year’s World Championships.
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