Superheroes save the day at children's hospital

Nobody believed Jahmir Barnes when he pressed his face against the glass window of Children’s Hospital of Georgia’s indoor playground and swore Spider-Man was clinging to the outside of the building above.

 

“No way, it can’t be,” said a smirking child life specialist sitting nearby.

Seconds later, Wonder Woman came rushing into the play area and told the group of about eight children and their families that a burglar had stolen all the hamburgers in the McDonald’s downstairs. She needed their help immediately.

“It’s a big guy, he’s wearing black and white and we think he has a mustache,” Wonder Woman said, hands flailing. “Have you seen him?”

Barnes’ eyes widened as the Hamburglar ran into the room with a sack of Happy Meals slung over his shoulder and a red cape floating behind him.

“Look at the window!” Barnes, 13, yelled next.

As Hamburglar skipped around the room, Spider-Man and Batman rappelled down ropes anchored to the top of the building, landed on the outside patio and ran into the play area to grab Hamburglar by the elbows, taking him away and saving the hospital’s hamburgers – just in time for lunch.

It was supposed to be a routine window-washing appointment for Sightline cleaning company, but the group decided to spice it up by scaling down the children’s hospital windows in full superhero costume Wednesday.

Bob Fuhr, the company’s vice president of business development and resident Hamburglar, said the company wanted to do something special for the children after winning the hospital’s bid this year.

“We’ve been dying to do this, so we came out last week to try to figure out how,” Fuhr said.

John Cooper, 4, watched the chase with his mother as his 6-year-old brother underwent his third surgery in 14 months to address Chiari Malformations, a complex swelling of the brain.

Like he does most days, Cooper was wearing his favorite Spider-Man T-shirt. He watched with his mouth gaping as the events unfolded.

His mother, Phoebe Cooper, said watching her son squeal and run around with the superheroes was a blessing to get his mind off his brother’s disease, which has consumed their lives.

She has become so consumed she even carries pamphlets about the disease in her back pocket and hands them out to strangers.

“Don’t get caught at the DMV with me because you’ll get a lecture,” Cooper said.

After the superheroes caught Hamburglar, the Sightline group – in full costume – visited outpatient children who were waiting for blood transfusions or visiting for a checkup. They also surprised patients who were too ill to join the group to watch the mock chase.

“It’s just great to see everyone cheer up a little,” said Shawn McManus, 16, who was receiving treatment for a leg infection.

Back upstairs, Barnes returned to his hospital bed where he was waiting to receive his monthly blood transfusion for sickle cell anemia.

The process is routine at this point. Get to the hospital about 9 a.m. Wait to be called around noon. Sit for four hours watching blood float through a tube. Get home to Aiken by evening.

It is not painful, but it’s very boring, he said.

He usually passes time by watching cartoons or sleeping beside his mother, Keyifa George, who snoozes as well.

But Wednesday was special.

“I got to see Batman glide,” he said. “It was fun.”

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