TAMPA, Fla. - Not many adults have the chance to purchase a memory from their childhood, much less bring it back to life.
Jared Sanchez did, and it was one of his favorite characters growing up: "The King" from Chuck E. Cheese's. It was once one of the animatronic figures playing music on stage inside the kid-friendly venue.
"As a child I used to love The King. That was the only reason I'd forced my parents to take me for my birthday every year," the Tampa man explained to FOX 13. "[We would] literally secure a table right by The King and I'd just sit there and listen."
The character was retired in the 1990s, and most of the life-size King characters were given away or destroyed, but finding "The King" was a bucket list item for Sanchez. He finally purchased the character from a vendor and resurrected it in 2016. But around this time, he started to bring his day job home with him, including some emotional baggage that he didn't even know was there.
"I pretty much had a breakdown," Sanchez said. "I've never had a breakdown before that really took a shock to my system and I really didn't ever want to leave the house. I was just staring at the wall basically and I couldn't go anywhere. I couldn't even look anyone in the eye and I know that's not me."
Sanchez said he eventually started writing music and singing along with The King, and, in a way it helped him come back to life. He created a YouTube show based on the character. Episodes would try to dissect and educate a variety of topics, like how to not lie, cheat or steal, and understanding depression.
"I would have a dream of literally walking into a Chuck E. Cheese's and asking the manager if you still have The King character and him saying, 'Yeah, it's broken and it's in the back,' and then I'd wake up," Sanchez recalled. "I had these dreams in high school. It's a fire that is burning inside me and it's still burning. When you want something you can make it happen. That's how this whole experience has been. It has taken hard work but I have made it happen."
He said the way The King helped him in his darkest time is helping others going through similar situations.
"I saw this and it helped with my depression. I get a kick out of it," he said. "Just knowing I made a difference in somebody's life or one day or a multitude of days means the most out of anything."