(photo: Jeff Chiu, AP)
The Make-A-Wish Foundation is a delivery system of epic Big Days to seriously ill kids. One day to live your dream: it’s a bittersweet gift, in the circumstances. But some recipients defy the odds, and live to savour the memory of a great adventure.
That’s the case with Miles Scott, from Tulelake, CA, whose fulfilled wish turned out to be “another level of extra,” as the kids say. The San San Francisco chapter of the Make-a-Wish Foundation, with the help of what seemed like the entire Bay Area, organized a caper for him that swept the whole world in the little guy’s ultimate fantasy.
That Big Day seems works revisiting, since November 15 marked its tenth anniversary.
Miles had been diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia when he was 18 months old. By age five he’d already been through the wars. When the Foundation approached him, asking if he had a request, Miles said, Well, there is one thing: “I want to be the real Batman.”
They could do better than that, the Foundation decided: they’d turn him into a brand new superhero, Batman 2.0: Batkid.
Vision-boarding commenced. Actors were hired. (Miles would be paired with a grown-up Batman, “so that he would have a buddy out there.”) “Save-the-day” press releases scattershotted across social media, informing the world that for one day, San Francisco would become Gotham City.
The Big Day dawned with SF police chief Greg Suhr breaking into regularly scheduled programming with an urgent message: Does anyone know the whereabouts of Batkid? Gotham needs him! Villains are on the loose, wreaking havoc. The Penguin had kidnapped the Giants’ pinniped mascot, Lou Seal. The Riddler has broken into a bank vault, and is holding a victim hostage in an undisclosed location.
One day hardly seemed enough to save the city, but the dynamic duo put their pointy-eared heads to the task, zooming around in the Batmobile (Miles needed a carseat) as thousands of people cheered from behind barricades. Together, Batman and Batkid rescued the Riddler’s hostage, tracked down the perp and threw him in the slammer.
Pretty much every actor who ever played Batman, from Adam West to Ben Affleck, called or tweeted in encouragement. At the end of the day, Miles was presented with the key to the city. President Barack Obama thanked him for his courage. The Chronical put out a special edition with Batkid’s heroics splashed across the front page.
In time it became clear that this whole dog-and-pony show was about more than one sick kid. This was feel-good therapy for a whole culture in darkhelping him live his dream,” a city official explained in a documentary made about Miles’s Big Day, “but we were really saving ourselves.”
Ten years later, Miles is free and clear. His cancer’s in remission, and his treatment has pared down to a once-a-year visit with an oncologist to check his levels. Everyone from his classmates to his little-league compadres still calls him Batkid.