Nov. 15, 2013 at 7:51 PM ET
Most children only ever dream of becoming a superhero, but a 5-year-old leukemia survivor got to experience something like the real thing on Friday morning in San Francisco.
Miles, who is from northern California and is now in remission, asked the Make-A-Wish Foundation if he could become Batman. The request seemed simple enough: As of Thursday evening, Miles thought he would receive a costume to make the fantasy come to life, according to the organization’s national communications manager Josh deBerge.
Miles didn’t know, however, that the “City by the Bay” was being transformed into present-day Gotham. On Friday, Miles was outfitted as Batkid and paired with an actor dressed as Batman, who drove the pair across town in a black sports car emblazoned with a Batman symbol.
The duo first rescued a damsel-in-distress who was sitting on a cable car track with a green plastic canister tied to her back. It bore all the marks of the infamous Joker.
When Batkid arrived on the scene, he ran to a springboard and did an acrobatic jump onto a cushy landing pad. Then he rushed to the damsel and quickly pulled plastic cables from the canister to defuse the Joker’s device. The woman leaned in to hug her rescuer. Hundreds of supporters watching from the sidewalk cheered.
Batkid then made his way downtown to stop the Riddler from robbing a bank. After the Riddler was busted, the San Francisco police put him in a paddy wagon. (Even the U.S. Justice Department got involved with a fake criminal indictment for the Riddler!) But Batkid’s work wasn’t finished yet. Word came from a flash mob that the Penguin had kidnapped Lou Seal, the mascot for the Giants baseball team.
The day’s final showdown took place at the Giants ballpark, where Batkid pursued and captured the Penguin. As a token of the city’s appreciation, the chief of police broadcast a message on the Jumbotron, inviting Batkid to receive the key to the city from the mayor.
More than 12,000 people signed up to greet Batkid at City Hall, and the throng of fans cheered wildly when he arrived.
But Miles’ superhero feats weren’t just popular amongst San Franciscans – they also had a global audience on Twitter and Instagram where people gushed about the heartwarming event.
Batkid caught the attention of notable personalities, including the Harlem Globetrotters, conservative pundit Michelle Malkin and Olympic champion Kristi Yamaguchi. Even President Obama tweeted a photo of Batkid’s good work.
Josh deBerge of Make-A-Wish said that the elaborate plans to make Miles’ dream come true were made possible by an “outpouring” of support. The organization fielded numerous requests from volunteers to help, with some people traveling across the country to attend the event and support Make-A-Wish for the first time.
The organization grants 14,000 requests per year, and deBerge told TODAY.com that the superhero wish is a common one. He said the team that organizes wishes tailors activities to that child’s abilities and age. Having met Miles prior to Friday’s event, deBerge expected the 5-year-old to truly enjoy the exciting day.
The experience, he added, was also a moment for Miles’ family to mark his remission from leukemia.
“A lot of times, a wish can serve as a turning point,” deBerge said. “What a better way to celebrate than with [thousands] of strangers who want nothing more to support Miles on his wish day.”