Friday November 15, 2013
Gotham City was hit by a crime wave on Friday, November 15th, as a woman was taken hostage and tied to cable car tracks, a criminal calling himself the Riddler attempted to rob a bank vault, and an evil-doer known as the Penguin made a pest of himself in the downtown area. This may have been a normal day for Gotham City, but the “crimes” all occurred in San Francisco, which became Gotham City for a day, thanks to the the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Of course, each “crime” was staged. All were part of an effort by the Make-a-Wish Foundation to give five year old Miles Scott a memorable day assisting his favorite superhero, Batman. Miles, from Tulelake in Siskiyou County in northern California, was diagnosed with leukemia when he was 18 months old and finished treatments in June. He is now in remission.
San Francisco’s Mayor and police department were among the crowds (estimated at more than 10,000 strong by The Wall Street Journal) involved in an incredible day that captivated the city and drew the attention of the White House. Miles’s day began with an urgent message from police chief Greg Suhr, informing “Batkid” about the evil activities and pleading for his assistance. Miles consented, and was picked up by a man dressed as Batman who was driving a vehicle which looked vaguely like the Batmobile.
The two hurried to the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Union Square, where an unnamed woman had been tied up on cable car tracks with what appeared to be an improvised explosive device strapped to her back. A large crowd had gathered there as Batkid arrived and ran to help the woman. A few moments later, the crowd cheered as Batkid freed the woman from her desperate situation. The “explosive” device did not blow up.
Less than an hour later, Batkid was called back to Union Square, where The Riddler was attempting to rob a bank vault. Batkid successfully apprehended the criminal, is spite of huge disadvantages in size and strength. The Riddler was hauled away in a San Francisco Police Department truck. The Police did not immediately reply when asked what the arrest charges might be.
“This just restores your faith in humanity,” said Carmen Kiew, 30, a sports blogger who sat on the steps of Union Square with a handmade sign that read “Gotham’s Hero.”
“I love that this city came together for a little kid who has been so brave,” Kiew said. “Between the police and everyday citizens who felt it was important to show their support, it just makes you feel great.”
Behind Kiew, thousands of citizens of Gotham-for-the-Day held up camera phones as they awaited the arrival of the caped crime-fighters. The Bat-duo took a break for lunch inside Macy’s before heading to AT&T Park to foil the Penguin once and for all, and then — of course — it was off to City Hall to receive the key to the city from San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee.
Seemingly every other T-shirt bore the Batman logo in support of Miles. Some were simply hand-drawn with markers, while others were official Batkid t-shirts, which were sold by uniformed police officers at $20 apiece, with all proceeds going to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
The day’s events enthralled the city. “This has turned into a full blown phenomenon,” said Chief Suhr.
The White House even tweeted a message to Batkid – “Go get ‘em!” In a video recording, President Barack Obama said, “Way to go, Miles! Way to save Gotham!”
Make-a-Wish grants the wishes of children with life-threatening illnesses. Miles, a Batman fan, had one wish – “To be Batkid.” Make-a-Wish reached out through email and social networks, asking for help making Miles’s wish come true. The charity was inundated with offers to help. Volunteers from the crowd pretended to be villains.
The San Francisco Chronicle was among the many organizations involved, and its Friday front page was dedicated to the pint-sized superhero.
After the 5-year-old saved the city from the infamous comic-book arch-criminals, hearts across America melted, including those of some celebrities, as evidenced by the following Twitter posts:
President Barack Obama: #FollowFriday RT @SFWish: Here he comes!!!! #SFBatkid
Elizabeth Banks: Bit late to #BatKid, but damn if he isn’t a ROCK STAR! Also, a great reminder of the amazing work done by @MakeAWish.
Nick Lachey: As a new dad, i am so moved by #batkid and by all the volunteers who are helping to bring his wish to life!! Awesome! #SFBatKid
Olivia Munn: I love #Batkid. I’m cheering you on little man!!
Anna Kendrick: Just read about #BatKid and I am IMMEDIATELY in tears. Go #BatKid!
Alexa Vega: #BatKid just makes my heart explode. What a little bundle of joy