Staff Sgt. Shareef Stokely is seen in an image made from video. ()
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If you bust your leg, he busts a rhyme.
The hiphop stylings of Staff Sgt. Shareef Stokely, a Fort Drum, N.Y., medic, went viral this week after a video of him rapping to a pint-sized patient ricocheted from YouTube to the “Today Show.”
Stokely, 39, raps a “Cast Rules Jingle” to patients to make sure they keep their casts clean, reminding patients, “Don’t hate, just elevate.”
A video of him performing to an 8-year-old, who broke her right foot at a playground near her home on Monday, had received more than 450,000 views on YouTube by today. The girl’s mother posted the rap online after filming Stokely on her iPhone, according to the “Today Show.”
A 20-year military veteran who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan, Stokely came up with the idea in 2012 after a friend and fellow medic gave him detailed cast maintenance instructions.
“I got up the nerve to do it, and I’ve been doing it ever since,” he told Army Times.
He has been using the rap off and on ever since to connect with and entertain young patients as the noncommissioned officer-in-charge of a clinic at Guthrie Army Medical Center. He is a medic who specializes as an ortho tech.
As a father of three school-aged children who has rapped as part of a Christian youth group, Stokely particularly enjoys working with children.
“With my personality, the way that I am, the way that I joke fits patient care, for me,” he said. “Sometimes I feel guilty coming to work because I come to work and play all day with children and patients. I talk to people like they’re people, though I give respect to rank.”
Because of his infectious smile, coworkers often direct him to soften the hard cases, like squirmy or misbehaving children.
“For some reason, I just start talking to them and it calms them down,” he said.
He is working on a new rap about orthopedic health with references to cartoons like “Phineas and Ferb” and “Spongebob,” but he said he cannot freestyle, which he said, disqualifies him from the labels “rapper” or “hiphop artist.”
“I can probably get two sentences together before I mess up,” he laughed. “I have to count off the syllables in the lyrics.”
Since the video of him hit, he has been teased about his appearance via Skype on the “Today Show” — particularly by his wife, who ribs him over a rhyme he had been reciting around the house for more than a decade.
“My wife is very excited, but she’s laughing because I test out my raps, and she says, ‘Here we go again’,” but she’s very supportive,” he said. “She says, ‘This little thing you did 12 years ago, but look at it now,’ so we laugh.”
Stokely was never in it for the fame. He said he loves his job and he does it because he cares deeply about his fellow troops and their families.
“I know the guys out there, they’ve got it rough, and when they go away, I want them to know — even though I don’t go into the field as much as they do — I want them to know when their family members get hurt, I give them the best treatment I can,” he said. “Their family member is getting taken care of by someone who is easy to talk to, so that’s another reason why I do it.”