KNOXVILLE (WATE) – At UT Medical Center there is a worker who brings a moment of joy to the patients who walk through the hospital’s doors.
Tom Cunningham is known as UT’s Elvis, and when he is not busy brightening hospital floors, he is brightening the day of patients with his version of the king of rock n’ roll. He meets new friends, brings some to tears singing the best of Elvis Presley and ends with a moment of prayer and encouragement. This is Tom’s routine all day long.
“When I’m in someone’s room or I am down here, in my mind I am thinking ‘I can’t believe I get to do this.’ I am so thankful that I was chosen to get to be with these people at this moment, because they will hold on to you. They will say ‘you have no idea what I am going through today. I needed this,'” Tom says.
His goodwill doesn’t stop the work he’s paid to do, but simply allows him and opportunity to reach more people. For seventeen years, Tom has donned the hair, the sideburns and the voice. During each encounter, he provides a personalized special moment for those looking to lighten the load of the day.
“A lot of times they will come up to me and just say ‘will you pray with me’ or ‘will you sing with me?’ Hopefully they will give me a song that I know, because he had over 3000 songs,”Tom laughs. “This is basically my Graceland.”
His Graceland that he works to keep clean and filled with love.
A spokesperson with UT Medical Center says they have really embraced Cunningham’s unofficial role. They say healing comes in many forms and for a lot of patients seeing Tom and getting song a prayer can be a positive thing.