Our story begins in a non-descript North Texas suburb just outside of Dallas. It is mid-summer and the atmosphere hangs thick with so much humidity that you can almost swim through it. The oppressive heat of the mid-afternoon sun has convinced the birds to take shelter and cease their mid-afternoon songs in favor of a nap in the shade. A caped figure alights upon the sidewalk. His blue and red outfit shines as a bright beacon of hope against the gray and brown earth tones shimmering in the heat waves around him. He turns and smiles as his teammate, a tall Amazon in a red, blue, and gold outfit, joins him. They direct their attention to a nearby house and proceed to fulfill this day’s mission of bringing joy and happiness to the children inside.
This is just one of many scenes that play out often not just in North Texas, but around the country as part of the mission of Heroic Inner Kids. Heroic Inner Kids is a group of volunteer heroes that visit children in hospitals, homes, and other facilities in order to bring hope and joy to otherwise frightening or difficult situations.
Heroic Inner Kids is a non-profit organization founded in October 2014 in North Texas by Rebecka Hunt as a way to fuse her passion for cosplaying with her love of doing volunteer work. In the years since, these heroes have visited countless children who are staying in hospitals, enduring difficult home medical care, or are living under economically disadvantaged situations. Over the years, they have grown into a national organization with chapters throughout North Texas and Oklahoma (with plans to expand into other cities). They also do virtual visits and story book readings, send messages of hope or congratulations, and send gifts to children wherever they may live. While the common theme is to dress up as anything from comic book superheroes and villains to beloved Disney characters, their mission is always to bring hope to sick, injured, or disadvantaged children and their families.
Daniel Sanchez, the current national president, describes how he got involved with this league of modern-day heroes.
I am a surviving sibling of a younger sister who lost a battle with Childhood Leukemia when she was two years old. I was four, and when she would come home from the hospital, she didn’t want to “be sick anymore,” so we would play games. If she wanted to be cowboys, we would get hats and play cowboys. Sometimes she would make me be the patient and she was the doctor, so we got the plastic stethoscope and I played along. “King & Queen” would be us in Burger King paper hats, etc. Those were some of the happiest moments for us then, and it was totally natural to make her smile and forget in that way.
In 2017, I met the existing organization of Heroic Inner Kids and asked them what they did. They told me, “We dress up and visit medically disadvantaged children in hospitals, and…” and I said, “Stop. I’m in. How do I join?”
Daniel points out that sometimes children and families just need a bit of hope to keep going when faced with emotional, mental, and financial hardships that illness, injury, and economic challenges bring. By arriving as characters such as Tony Stark, Batman, Woody and Buzz Lightyear, or even a Ninja Turtle; Heroic Inner Kids can help spark that inner fire of hope. He is also quick to point out that it is not only the ill or injured child that gets the attention. These heroes are diligent about making sure that the siblings also get special attention.
Hospital and home visits are not the only activities that these talented crusaders of hope perform. They also have a very active Education & Literacy schedule. This includes activities such as Tony Stark teaching about science, Batman reading to kids, Hermione teaching about studying and more. In recent years, they have developed a unique program known as The Empathy Experience. This program gives children and their parents an opportunity to experience and learn about the world of children with special needs. This might include learning how to type out a letter in braille using a classic brailling machine, learning how to communicate in sign language, walking a maze while blindfolded and using a cane, among other things.
Heroic Inner Kids is growing and is always in need of volunteers. Not everyone who volunteers will need to wear a costume. They are always in need of actors, costumers, photographers, writers, PR professionals, attorneys, social media specialists, drivers, and more. In addition, other donations such as storage unit space and individual or corporate sponsorships are greatly appreciated.
You can find out more about Heroic Inner Kids at their website, HeroicInnerKids.org, or by visiting their Facebook page. If you want to help make the world a friendlier and more understanding place for children who are struggling, you too can be a Heroic Inner Kid!