TODAY

TODAY   |  July 26, 2013

George H.W. Bush: ‘I identify’ with boy with cancer

The former president, who lost his own daughter to leukemia decades ago, spoke to his granddaughter, TODAY’s Jenna Bush Hager, about shaving his head in honor of a  little boy with leukemia, saying he hoped to bring “a little happiness” to the toddler.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> we will begin this half hour with the imagine of george h.w. bush that touched hearts this week. jenna bush -hager is there this morning where she sat down with her grandparents to talk about it. good morning to you.

>> that's right. my grandfather has been constantly inspiring us but this time it was a group of secret service agents and a young boy that inspired him. i started by asking him, why the new hair cut ?

>> little patrick had leukemia. a lot of the agents shaved their heads and i said why not me. it was the right thing to do.

>> reporter: 2-year-old patrick is the son of a secret service agent assigned to my grandfather's detail. when the others heard about his diagnosis, they rallied around their own.

>> they're a wonderful group of people and they're like familiar with us.

>> reporter: and so, just two days ago, after more than 20 secret servicemen shaved their heads, it was my grandfather's son.

>> one of the reasons you shaved your head is because you wanted to see that little boy smile?

>> yeah. just identify with him. but bring happiness.

>> when you held that little boy on your lap.

>> cute little guy.

>> do you think he knew that you were once the president of the united states .

>> no.

>> do you think he cared.

>> he's so young.

>> reporter: and though patrick saw him as just another bald comrade his parents saw something more.

>> i heard that his wife, john's wife, when she pulled in he started crying.

>> weeping. but there she stood. she hasn't seen them. there were 20 or so people. everybody practically had shaved their head. and i mean, she was really touched.

>> reporter: in a statement released by patrick 's parents they say we are humbled and honored by the support and generosity that president and mrs. bush and our secret service family have shown towards our son and we are so very grateful for the outpouring of love and support from all over the country. the nature of their jobs prevents the secret service from speaking publicly but their actions speak volumes. encouraging even my grandfather's staff to pick up their razors.

>> what does this prove to you about how these men are.

>> they're a supportive group. they go above and beyond the call of duty . they're not just there to protect.

>> how does this look with the ladies?

>> still good.

>> still working out.

>> yeah, it's good character building getting shot down more often.

>> you're getting shot down?

>> not me.

>> my grandmother seems to like it.

>> what did you think about this hair cut ?

>> i was shocked. surprised and thrilled. but i think he looks beautiful. he looks younger.

>> but this is more than a hair cut and it is deeply personal for my grandparents who lost a child no leukemia. robin was just three when she died almost 60 years ago.

>> what did robin used to say to you?

>> a lot of things but the thing i remember i love you more than tongue can tell.

>> and you loved it when she would say that.

>> he always answered i love you more.

>> it makes you think about her when you say it now, even.

>> absolutely.

>> reporter: i maybe biased but i agree with robin.

>> you're the cutest. and they are hoping to raise funds and awareness through a site called patrick 's pals. he's a special little boy and i have a special grandpa.

>> you do, indeed, jenna. we have to ask you, we know he looks good. how is he feeling? because i know he battled health problems earlier this year?

>> he is feeling great. that's the ironic thing is he is now helping a little boy who is sick and a little over six months ago we didn't know if he would make it but he is feeling great and hoping in a year to jump out of a plane for his 90th.

>> we look forward to watching that.

>> wish him our best, jenna.