‘The real Spider-Man’ | Health Beat

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Eleven stories up, Spider-Man peeked his head over the edge of Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.

One leg appeared. Then the other.

And then the superhero launched down the side of round blue building, rappelling with ease.

In the garden below, 6-year-old Robert Brooks Jr. watched, transfixed.

“That’s amazing,” said his mom, Keisha McDonald, who cuddled her son close by her side. “I have never seen anything like this before.”

As Spider-Man inched down the building, he waved through windows at children in their hospital rooms. And he turned to wave at those watching from the garden. Assisting and monitoring his progress on the ground was the Black Panther.

The costumed crusaders, who normally work as window washers for Modern Window Cleaning, appeared in character to entertain children at the hospital. The Child and Family Life team coordinated their arrival as part of their fall and Halloween festivities.

“I think it’s real nice,” Keisha said. “Some of the kids here really need something to look forward to.”

Robert, wearing a gray winter jacket over his hospital pajamas, nodded when asked if he enjoyed the superhero visit. He did not take his eyes off Spider-Man.

He had been in the hospital for a week, being treated for a lung infection related to cystic fibrosis.

“This is just his second time out of his room,” his mother said.

True heroes

“A fan of superheroes, 8-year-old Emma Sharar watched Spider-Man’s descent with a mix of awe and fear.

“See how the strings are moving in the wind,” she said.

“He must be the real Spider-Man. It’s windy and cold here. It’s probably more windy and cold up there.”

Wearing a purple shirt and a pink and purple hoodie, Emma sat beside her mom, Michelle Sharar, and held onto her intravenous pole.

The superhero visit was well-timed, Michelle said.

Emma has a congenital heart condition and has undergone five open heart surgeries in her young life, starting when she was a baby. That morning, after a week in the hospital for treatment, she felt sad and wished she could go home.

As soon she learned about the superhero visit, “her attitude changed completely,” Michelle said. “She was so excited. This truly brings joy to the kids.”

Although Wonder Woman is Emma’s favorite, she is a fan of all superheroes in general.

“They can do cool things, like fly,” she said.

Her mom agreed superheroes are impressive. But no caped crusader could measure up to her daughter.

“She is strong and brave. She is so kind,” she said. “She is my hero.”

‘It is a gift’

Wyatt Grill, 10, pushed his IV pole ahead of him as he entered the garden, just in time to watch Spider-Man descend the last third of the building. As the superhero landed safely on the pavement, the children, parents and medical team members burst into applause.

“It was cool,” Wyatt said, his blue eyes sparkling. “It’s kind of like rock climbing a bit.”

When it comes to superheroes, he is a fan and has opinions.

“Thor is my favorite,” he said. “He is really strong. And I like his hammer and his axe.

“Black Panther is my second favorite because of his stealth and durability.”

Wyatt, who has leukemia, came to the hospital three days earlier for chemotherapy.

He looks forward to being home in time for Halloween—he plans to be a knight, as part of his family’s royal costume theme.

His mom, Jen Grill, was grateful for the superheroes’ heroic entertainment.

“It’s lovely,” she said. “It’s a blessing to have joy to break up the day. It is a gift.”

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