Until 2013, we only knew about the existence of Batman, the famous comic book hero, but almost a decade ago the whole world also got to know Batkid, a real boy from San Francisco, USA, whose story confirms the saying that “truth is stranger than fiction.”
The 5-year-old boy, whose real name is Miles Scott, created Batkid in his imagination during chemotherapy sessions. He wasn’t even two years old when he was diagnosed with leukaemia, a disease he beat after three years of treatment, with doctors saying his cancer is now in remission.
To celebrate this victory, which could mark the end of the torment experienced by Miles and his parents over the past years, they called on the services of charitable foundation “Make-A-Wish”, which fulfils the wishes of children suffering from critical illnesses.
Thus, for one day, Miles wore Batman’s costume, was driven around in a batmobile, and completed three rescue operations, carefully prepared in advance by the organisers. First, little Batkid saved a young lady tied with cables to a “bomb” attached to a tram track. An hour later, his intervention was needed again to stop the villainous Riddler from robbing a bank. The third challenge of the day was to save the Lou Seal mascot from the clutches of Penguin, one of Batman’s well-known enemies.
However, what impressed everyone and made the story circulate in the international press was not Miles’ wish, but the way it was fulfilled. Such a wish, like the other approximately 14,000 requests that the Make-A-Wish foundation fulfils annually, could not have been fulfilled without the efforts of its employees. What really touched all of our hearts was the kindness of the 12,000 people who volunteered to turn San Francisco into Gotham City and give Miles a real-life experience. As stated on the foundation’s website, “When a wish comes true, it creates strength, hope and transformation in a child—and a community.”
Miles’ experience was given a good dose of realism thanks to the integration of all these volunteers into the roles of the story. The police stepped in during the three rescue operations, and even the city’s police chief sent Batkid a message asking for his help. The local newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle, published a special edition with stories about Batkid’s achievements, and the city’s mayor, Ed Lee, held a press conference in which he handed Batkid the key to the city. The story had such an impact that even the White House posted a message of encouragement for little Miles on the Internet, in which former US President Barack Obama congratulated Batkid for saving Gotham City.
Over and above the unprecedented surprise experienced by the little hero, the gesture of thousands of people who resonated with his story, without even knowing him, showed that battles, no matter how hard, are easier fought together. The story of the little 5-year-old became known to almost 2 billion Twitter users, if you count all the fans of all the users who shared a tweet with Batkid. Over 20,000 photos were posted on Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag “#SFbatkid“, which were viewed 120,439,533 times in just three days of the event.
Eliza Vladescu is a communication specialist and previously was part of the permanent ST.Network team. She currently works as an online communication consultant.