‘Poop Man’ is a name of honor for elderly hospital volunteer

CHICAGO -- There are hundreds of volunteers who donate their time to help sick kids at Lurie Children's Hospital, but only one has a distinguished title: Milt Levin, the "Poop Man."

Milt has been a fixture at Lurie for 25 years, and most people don't know his first name, but instead refer to him by his fecal nickname.

"Would you like to know why they call me that? Because everywhere I go, I carry a chunk of dinosaur poop that's 140 million years old," Milt said.

That's about how Milt starts every conversation on the children's cancer treatment floor.

"[The kids] love it. To call me by my regular name doesn't do it. But to call me 'Poop Man,' it makes an attachment that I'd never get," Milt said.

Whether in a hospital room or the playroom down the hall, the Poop Man draws a crowd of patients and family members with his gentle voice and stories of dinosaur digs around the world.

"Something like fossilized poop, you wouldn't think that would do anything, but it lets them go to a different world kind of, and lets them forget what's going on with them at that moment," said Samantha Furlan, a nurse at Lurie.

Milt shows off dinosaur bones - and fossilized poop, of course - as he makes the rounds in the hospital and shares stories about how he used to dig up dinosaurs.

"You'd think those bones would be the draw... but it's the poop they request to see most," Milt said.

So he tells the kids what the dinosaur would eat to make poop that looks like the example he carries with him.

"My daughter knows him as the Poop Man- doesn't even know him as milt," said John Perkley, whose daughter is a patient at Lurie.

Milt has been bringing smiles to children fighting cancer for 25 years. At 89, his trek from room to room is a little slower now, but he has no plans to stop.

"Especially for young children, who come in here scared to death, crying, very upset, they don't want to be here, they're afraid of what's happening to them," Milt said. "I can usually change their focus in two seconds with that chunk of dinosaur poop."

Milt said he started volunteering in hospitals after his 12-year-old son had a successful surgery. He's now 63.

"I vowed to my family, the first place I was going to retire to will be Children's Hospital, and I did," Milt said.

Since he started, Milt hasn't missed a volunteer day in decades.

"If I've made a few children happy, that really makes my day," Milt said.