COLORADO SPRINGS — A local business is creating a positive spin out of the hateful messages some people want to leave behind.

Since 2017, Fallen Heroes Tattoo has been giving so-called ‘redemption’ tattoos, it’s one of only a handful of tattoo shops in the country to do so.

A Cañon City native is using their services to make some big changes after decades of bad decisions.

“Every time I’ve been on the news, it’s for being arrested,” John Waldron said.

He has a long list of criminal history — from aggravated motor vehicle theft at age 12 to, most recently, felony possession of a machine gun.

Now, he says he’s trying to turn his life around for his family. But he recognizes some of his permanent ink, almost all of it applied in prison, could be standing in his way.

One of the markings reads “white power”. Another, the numbers ’14’ and ‘336’, which he explained, represent his participation in the Imperial Klans of America. He also wears a tattooed swastika and a message reading ‘kill yourself’ on his lip.

“I just don’t want to live that life anymore,” Waldron said.

He sees the redemption tattoo program as a rare second chance to try and make a change. His fiancee agrees.

“To get away from his past, and show that he’s trying to make a change, and not live that lifestyle anymore, he’s not that person,” Waldron Fiance Savannah Jumila said.

Jumila said it also means a lot to their nine kids.

“My kids are proud of me no matter what, you can tell they don’t like [the tattoos],” Waldron cried.

And a big bonus: Fallen Heros Tattoo creates redemption tattoos for its customers at no charge.

“There shouldn’t be a cost associated with making the changes these people need to make,” Tattoo Artist David Brown said. 

Just like the ink, they hope the change is permanent.

“I don’t want to look back I want to go forward,” Waldron added.

If you’re interested in receing a redemption tattoo, you can apply online by clicking here. Right now, there are about 250 people on the waiting list.