The Cisco Origami Cranes

July 16, 2018 - 26 Comments

Have you ever come across a live bird, say a duck or a swan, just randomly resting on your desk upon arriving at the office one morning? Well, probably not. But chances are you may have found another bird of a rather distinct species. The paper crane or Orizuru may have shown up on your desk here at Cisco.

I’m sure you’ve wondered way or how – and this is that story.

Stemming from Japanese culture, origami is an art form that involves the intricate folding of paper into different objects. The paper crane happens to be the most famous example of this form of art. Cranes themselves are said to signify good fortune and longevity, and are often referred to as the bird of happiness. There also exists a tradition in where a person who folds one thousand paper cranes, may be granted a wish.

While the tradition of folding paper cranes has been around for a long while, my spin on this became more of a tribute to my younger sister, Melanie.

My sister was a loving, friendly, and kind person with a side of spunk. She was headstrong, but never with any malicious intent. Growing up with her, I’d often found myself with the family attending one of her many activities – from softball to baton twirling. While I would not always find any of these activities amusing, looking back now these are the memories that I have learned to cherish.

In 2012, my sister’s health started declining with bouts of fevers and body aches. After two years of countless hospital visits with inconclusive results, doctors finally diagnosed her with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, a type of blood cancer. While the grave diagnosis shook the entire family, she was determined and persevered through the initial rounds of chemotherapy. She improved, and was declared to be in remission and was eventually able to return home after a long hospital stay.

Unfortunately, not too many months after, she started feeling ill again and we learned that the cancer had returned. A second run of chemo proved to be ineffective and alternatives had to be explored, but my sister’s health took a turn for the worse before an alternative option could be found.

It was a very cold beginning to the holiday season that year when the doctors presumed she only had a few days left. Family poured in from all parts of the country to provide warm support. Her longtime boyfriend proposed to her, and with an uplifted spirit, she agreed to his proposal.

With the help of an awesome hospital staff and supportive family, an impromptu wedding was held in less than 2 days. The miraculous strength my sister demonstrated to walk down the aisle in her frail state had all of us all floored. Vows were exchanged and the traditional ceremony carried on as any normal wedding would with the bride and groom declaring their union and sharing the joyous occasion – no matter what the odds against them might be.

Not long after the holidays, my sister passed away. And since January 2016, her memory has lived on in those she touched deeply. My tribute and remembrance to her is instilled in every crane I’ve ever folded since then.

My original take on the tradition was to fold a thousand cranes wishing for my sister’s health to return and at the same time distribute the folded happiness across an audience a Cisco. My plan was to create a sort of collage to from snapshots of the cranes taken across the various workspaces I found interesting to show my sister since she lived across the country. While I couldn’t fulfill the deed while she was still here, I wanted to keep going in her memory and complete the project. So, one thousand paper cranes with various designs, colors, and each with a unique number scattered across over 30 Cisco buildings at the San Jose campus – continues on. At the time of this writing, my count stands at 1179 with many more on the way.

Life is too short to not be happy during your workday so why not spread that through a very universal gesture? While most of my deliveries occur during off-hours when no one is around, I hope that my fellow employees will get some positive vibes from the random act of kindness that is bestowed upon them when they see the bird of happiness.

For those Cisconians out there reading this, I challenge you to do something out of the ordinary for your fellow peers that may just brighten up their day, no matter how small the gesture, even a smile will do. I promise you’ll feel rewarded!


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  1. Lovely memories and very well captured life of ur sister .

  2. Memories, Cranes, and a Challenge to Pay It Forward.

    A wonderful legacy to carry into the future.

    Thanks for sharing Randy.

  3. Wow..this is amazing.. thank you Randy..

  4. What a beautiful tribute, thank you Randy!

  5. Thanks for sharing the story, she is so beautiful! Her story is so inspiring.

  6. Thank you for sharing your heartfelt story, Randy. Your words are truly inspiring.

  7. Very inspiring, thank you for sharing your story and for the crane.
    Best wishes and good luck in all you do.

  8. I received one of your cranes around Oct 2016 Randy as did the rest of my team , and it put a huge smile on my face as I wondered who made these . Today I know thanks a ton for sending cheer and happiness ! know that your sister is watching over all of you and her smile is radiating thru all of us . You touched our life in such a wonderful way … God bless you …. Stay happy , stay strong and stay blessed !

  9. Thanks for the touching and inspiring story Randy. I wish you and your family the best. You will be comforted to know that your sister and many others who see these cranes will be smiling for a long time thinking about the kindness you did for them. Let's all stand together in conquering cancer… it will be defeated one day. <3

  10. This is just amazing! She was a blessing and so are you!

  11. Hi Randy,

    Thank you for sharing the story. I feel lucky to participate in folding the crane and spreading the bird of happiness.
    Best wishes to you and your family.

  12. Thank you for sharing your story, and thanks for the beautiful crane!

  13. Hi Randy,

    Thanks for sharing this. I do have received one of this Crane and was puzzled how it landed on my desk.

    Thank You,

  14. Randy,

    Your tribute to your sister is heart-touching. She was blessed to have such a caring and creative brother like you.

    Your office decorations were always appreciated. Coming to office and seeing the office decorated with your new creations was always pleasant.

    Thanks for bringing the origami paper to the office so we could also participate in folding the cranes.

  15. Randy, thank you for sharing this. I could say a lot of things in response, but your words stand alone in perfection.

  16. You know, Randy, part of my job is helping employees like you tell their stories. We'd been chasing after you on social for some time to find out who was behind these Cisco cranes. We knew that there had to be a reason and a method to your folding madness!

    I never imagined that when we found you, this is the story you would tell.

    Every employee story on this blog is special to me and my team in some way. This one is an example that employees from all over are telling me that it touched them. You honored us with your story and I thank you for that.

  17. Love this on so many levels. Thank you for sharing <3

  18. Randy. You are a humble soul, I will help you spread the universal gesture here in New York. Thank you for the inspiration. Love you, Mel would be so proud.

  19. Your sister was beautiful, and your tribute to her is beautiful also. I love that your turned this tragedy into a way to honor her spirit.

  20. Randy, your words and birds are lovely. Have you considered shipping them to other Cisco offices for distribution? I would love to help you continue this tribute to your sister as well as be an ambassador of joy for other Cisco employees in RTP.

  21. Hi Randy,
    Thank you for sharing your family tragedy and something so wonderful for a positive outcome. I do hope a crane makes it into my building and my work area. I would feel amazingly blessed.
    Best wishes to you and your family. Your sis is beautiful.

  22. What a beautiful tribute, Randy! I was lucky enough to be one of the 1000+ recipients. Thank you!

  23. Thanks for sharing such a touching story, Randy. Your beautiful cranes and office decorations have brought happiness to many people.

  24. Some dozens of cranes are sitting here at my office, waiting for hundreds more to arrive. Perhaps they are with you and your sister in their minds.

  25. This is so touching! Many of these cranes made it to my team's desks and we all discussed in wonder as no one admitted making and gifting these beauties.

    To this day it's still displayed at my desk. I am touched it means so much more than I ever knew.

    Your heart is just as beautiful as your cranes! Thank you!

  26. Yes. Yes. Yes…! Love this Randy…