Maybe you’ve heard of the “Route 29 Batman” here in DC? He managed to go national/viral earlier this week when the police in MD reported pulling over someone wearing a Batman costume, driving a black Lamborghini with Bat-symbols instead of license plates. News anchors chuckled, late-night comics had their fun…most people, if they thought about it at all, most likely dismissed the guy as a nut, mostly harmless. Luckily, someone who blogs for The Washington Post knows him and broke the true story behind the “nut.”
“Batman” is really a self-made success story, Lenny B-as-in-Batman Robinson, who recently (and very lucratively, I hope) sold a business he’s owned for 30 years or so. He became “obsessed” (his word) with Batman years ago when his young son discovered the superhero. Lenny spent about $5000 on a custom-made Batsuit, plus even more of his own money tricking out a black Lamborghini in Batmobile regalia. Maybe a little overboard, sure…but he didn’t stop there. And on that tale hangs greatness.
See, when the police stopped him last week, he was on his way to visit sick kids in a pediatric hospital (he had his real plates in his car so they didn’t ticket him). He does these visits, purely voluntarily and using his own money, to local hospitals about two or three times a week. And has done so since 2001. He brings gifts for the kids, often in terminal cancer wards, that he pays for himself…he estimates that he spends about $25,000 a year to do these visits, what with buying gifts, a gas-guzzling Bat-Lambo, dry-cleaning the Batsuit, etc.
Incredible. These kids–and their parents–are facing a terrible nightmare, clinging to any bright spot of hope in their lives. And then, Lenny…excuse me, I mean BATMAN walks in, handing out bat-bracelets, autographing bat-coloring-books, smiling all the while and calling them “heroes.” Sometimes, he lets them sit in his customized ‘Batmobile’ (he’s spending $250,000 on a real Batmobile). And he does it all out of the goodness of his heart…his own family, those of his friends, they’re all hale and healthy (knock on wood). The only reason he is doing any publicity at all is to counter the “virality” of last week’s traffic stop…and use it to publicize the organizations that help these kids.
Lenny says he likes Batman because, unlike a lot of superheroes, he is just a human, with no special powers. Batman is a hero because he does what he can, as a regular human, to do something good, to be amazing. Well, he’s not the only true hero…bravo, Lenny. Bravo!