There’s no doubt Phoenix Children’s Hospital is a special place. In our “Only at Phoenix Children’s” series, we’re highlighting some of the people, places and things that make Phoenix Children’s extraordinary. And there’s no better place to start than with the first face many of our patient families see as they enter Phoenix Children’s main campus: security guard Anthony Bragg.

Anthony Bragg has been a fixture at Phoenix Children’s since 2013. His job title and name badge say “security guard,” but Anthony considers his job to be so much more than that.

“Security is what I do, but love is who I am,” he says. “My purpose is love, comfort and encouragement.”

And there’s no doubt Anthony brings the love. At any point in his shift, he can be seen making people laugh, giving hugs, doing a happy dance, praying with families or simply flashing his infectious smile at everyone who passes by. He considers it not only his job but his calling.

“There’s good days, and there’s bad days, of course,” he says. “But if I can be something of a light, if I can just keep [patient families] encouraged as they go through this journey, then I am grateful for that. God gave me the mindset and attitude to do what I do.”

We sat down with Anthony to learn more about his story and find out what makes him tick. Here are five facts we found out about Anthony Bragg:

Anthony fist bumps a patient

I don’t care what type of mood I’m in or what’s going on in my life, I will never, ever go to work with anything but a smile on my face. When I hit the campus and close my car door behind me, I am focused on spreading that love and kindness.

That’s it.

Anthony Bragg

1. He almost didn’t take the job.

Prior to coming to Phoenix Children’s, Anthony never wanted to work at a hospital. He had negative personal experiences when two of his family members were treated at different hospitals when he was younger and just didn’t like the idea. He still insists he actually said no when his Trident Security boss asked him if he wanted the job eight years ago. Of course, everyone is glad he said yes, including Anthony.

“I’m so grateful to be here and for everything that’s transpired,” he says. “I’ve come in contact with beautiful people and families, and the relationships I’ve built with them are forever etched in my heart.”

2. Anthony has bad days, too.

Considering Anthony always has a smile on his face and a song in his heart, it’s hard to imagine he’s ever not happy. Of course, he has bad days, too. But he vowed a long time ago not to let that affect his mission.

“I don’t care what type of mood I’m in or what’s going on in my life; I will never, ever go to work with anything but a smile on my face,” he says. “[The families] are already in a situation that’s tough to deal with, and I don’t want to bring any negative energy to them. When I hit the campus and close my car door behind me, I am focused on spreading that love and kindness. That’s it.”

Everyone’s Favorite Security Guard
Anthony gives a patient a big hug

3. Safety is his No. 1 priority.

While Anthony has become known as Phoenix Children’s unofficial greeter, he takes his job in security very seriously.

“First and foremost, my job is to make sure everyone feels safe and secure,” he says. “The last thing parents need when they’re here is to feel unsafe for any reason.”

Sometimes that means having to ask a person to leave campus, if they’re being aggressive with staff or him. Still, Anthony has nothing but compassion in his heart.

“I just say, ‘Sir, I need you to leave. God bless you and be on your way.’ I don’t take it personally. I know they’re acting out because they’re hurting.”

4. He’s seen it all.

Because of Anthony’s position at the hospital, he interacts with all types of patients. He has innumerable stories about patients he’s connected with over the years—some have ended sadly, but many have had happy endings.

One patient who immediately comes to Anthony’s mind is a boy who had been receiving treatment for cancer at Phoenix Children’s for a year and seven months. No one thought he would make it. Then one day Anthony saw the boy’s mother arrive at the hospital with empty bags, and he knew right away the boy was finally going home.

“I just looked at her and said, ‘For real?’ and then we shared a rejoicing embrace,” he says. “When [the boy] came out, we danced. He beat cancer, and I was so, so grateful.”

5. He’s learned a lot, too.

We can all learn a lot from Anthony about positivity and humility. But, Anthony says, he’s the one who’s grateful to have learned so much in his tenure at Phoenix Children’s.

“I’ve never had to deal with what these parents deal with,” he says. “It’s not just here and there, these families—a lot of them—are here every day. And you just learn the strength of these parents. You learn the strength of the kids—I’ve never seen such strong kids in my life. They come through facing what they’ve got to face with smiles on their faces. Cancer patients with smiles on their faces. It’s amazing. I know what a blessing it is for me to be here.”

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