Pulling for the kids

Local 'superheroes' work together to brighten the lives of children who need help

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Behind every superhero there are heroes who are just super.

Participants from Bryton Entertainment dressed as superheroes for the Fifth Annual Plane Pull that benefited the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Augusta, at Augusta Regional Airport in May.  JON-MICHAEL SULLIVAN/FILE
Participants from Bryton Entertainment dressed as superheroes for the Fifth Annual Plane Pull that benefited the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Augusta, at Augusta Regional Airport in May.

That was the case with San Francisco’s “Batkid,” and it’s true in Augusta, too.

The city by the bay delighted the nation, and many around the world, when officials and volunteers Nov. 15 turned San Francisco into Gotham City and let a 5-year-old leukemia patient named Miles save the day as Batkid.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation made it happen, but not without the full and heartwarming support of the city, including police Chief Greg Suhr – who even went on TV to appeal for Batkid’s help – and Mayor Ed Lee, who gave the young crimefighter the keys to the city after he thwarted the Penguin and Riddler and saved a damsel in distress.

The stunt was intended to make a young cancer warrior happy, but it did much more than that. The sight of a major American city giving itself over to a child’s fantasies for a day – some 12,000 citizens took time out to line the streets and cheer Batkid on – brought thousands around the world to tears of joy.

“I’ve been crying about batkid all morning. Sometimes humans get it right,” one Twitter user wrote.

“The Batkid story has me crying off all my makeup. Worth it. High five, San Francisco,” wrote another.

Superhero actors Ben Affleck (Superman) and Christian Bale (Batman) shared their joy at seeing Batkid. President Obama took note. A bay area writer noted past celebrations of sports victories there, “But few have seen anything like Friday’s ‘Batkid’ phenomenon, which melted even the hardest of hearts and had people across the country weeping onto their computer keyboards at work.”

Why? It’s such a simple thing, after all. How could it capture the imagination this way?

Maybe because adults with so much else on their minds took it so seriously to give a little joy to a sick child. Maybe because the city’s apparatus – rather than find reasons why it couldn’t be done (liability, cost, resources, blah, blah, blah) – bought into it so completely. Maybe because it united a community for the briefest of moments.

And maybe because we’re all former kids, and even the most grizzled of us have the memory of that wide-eyed time stored in our minds’ attics.

Mostly, though, this story is about taking time out to love, and going out of your way to do it.

That’s the stuff real heroes are made of.

And we’ve got that kind of superhero right here, too.

The guys at Christian video production company Bryton Entertainment in North Augusta have been dressing up as superheroes and visiting hospitalized children at the former MCG Children’s Hospital for nearly a decade.

It’s a labor of love for Bryton co-founder Bryan Williams, who endured open-heart surgery himself at age 5 and fondly remembers being visited by a costumed Spiderman.

“I never forgot that visit,” he says.

He and his crew assembled some superhero costumes and began visiting other sick kids in 2004, which they do once a month. They also participate each year in the James Brown toy giveaway and Halloween with a Heart, a trick-or-treat event for children with disabilities.

Bryton Entertainment also has recently filmed some high-quality fundraising videos for the Ronald McDonald House here, which has broken ground on fabulous new digs for families whose little ones are hospitalized.

And just for pure fun, the Bryton folks attend the premieres of
comic-book-inspired movies to warm up the largely adult crowd.

It’s not just kids who can use a little encouragement, after all.

But as veterans of childhood, most of us have a soft spot in our heart for kids, and love to add a little magic and mystery to childhood. Kids struggling with health issues can move companies and entire communities to action.

And vice versa. In one remarkable instance, the Bryton superheroes encountered a toddler on his birthday and sang to him. His mother explained that he was non-communicative, and couldn’t thank them.

Suddenly, the boy surprised everyone by applauding.

“It’s kind of our attempt to better the world around us,” says Byrton co-founder Denton Adkinson.

In truth, costumed or not, we all have that power.

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deestafford 11/24/13 - 12:59 am
There is only one thing to say:

America is the most generous and giving country in the history of the world.

Bizkit 11/24/13 - 10:00 am
NOTE:It's all about love. All

NOTE:It's all about love. All the "Superheroes" were those who gave of their time to brighten this young lads day. We can all be superheroes. Pour hot coals on bad with good. See we aren't as divided as "politicians" would have you believe. Imagination is the most powerful element of the human psyche. John Lennon wrote a song about it-at least the "imagine" part. This is really cool.

GiantsAllDay 11/24/13 - 03:04 pm
If you good folks get a

If you good folks get a chance, take a look at the youtube videos showing this event. The SF Chronicle printed a special edition that day, "The Gotham City Chronicle". The stories were by reporters such as "Clark Kent" and "Lois Lane". The US Attorney even handed down indictments against the Riddler and the Penguin, using official documents. My favorite was when he recused the damsel in distress from being tied up to the cable car tracks with a bomb (fake) strapped to her. The hug and kiss he received from her even brought a tear to my eye. Remember, this kid is from a very small town up near the Oregon border. He had probably never seen a crowd of more than a 100 people in his life.

deestafford 11/24/13 - 04:56 pm
It's too bad a local councilman complained about all the money

being spent on making this kid feel special saying that money could have gone to help feed the "homeless" and the "poor". The reason SF has so many "homeless" is all the bennies they give them. It's a mecca for the hobos.

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