Five-year-old Miles was a cancer patient who had his wish granted, and then some, by the Make-A-Wish Foundation's San Francisco Bay Area chapter. I remembered, vaguely, hearing about the event at the time but didn’t know any of the details. Like most people, I just thought how nice that was and then forgot about it.
My memory was jogged when I saw Batkid Begins, a documentary film currently available on Netflix. It is not really about the child who was granted this amazing wish and got to be Batkid for a day, although, obviously that is central to the story. If you have not seen it yet you really should take the time to watch, it is fascinating.
The documentary is more about the way in which so many people wanted to become involved with the project and how volunteers came from miles away just to be a part of this once in a lifetime event for a child they did not know.
My research for updates also turned up the fact that Julia Roberts had bought the movie rights and wants to make a film all about the big day. I am sure that will be fabulous, too.
15It Was A Celebration Of The End
The Make-A-Wish Foundation staged a full day, city wide “Batkid” project for Miles Scott, a five-year-old who had been battling cancer for three and a half years.
Miles was diagnosed with lymphoblastic leukemia, a cancer of the white blood cells that inhibits the growth of healthy cells and can spread throughout the body. According to the National Cancer Institute, the survival rate for this type of cancer in children is 85% who make it to five years after diagnosis, and this particular type of cancer is unlikely to reoccur after five years.
However, because the cancer is so fast growing and aggressive, treatment has to be equally aggressive.
Miles’s parents chose for him to receive his wish after he had completed his treatment so he could enjoy it that bit more.
14A Super Fan
During his many long stays in hospital, Miles loved superheroes, they were his inspiration. All through his treatment, he looked to his heroes, and they kept him strong. So it was natural that when a representative from the Make-A-Wish Foundation asked what Miles would wish for if he could wish for anything in the world, that he would say he wanted to be a superhero.
Not just any old superhero though. No Superman, or Spiderman, or Captain America would have cut it for Miles. No, he wanted to be the best of the best. Miles wanted to be one better than Batman. He wanted to be Batkid!
It would have been easy for the Make-A-Wish Foundation to grant his wish by giving him a kid sized Batam costume and saying ‘here you go kid, now you can be Batman, ’ but that is not how the Foundation operates. They had a little something better in mind.
13One Of Make-A-Wish's Biggest Projects
The organization rarely has the opportunity to share a wish with the public, but when they started planning, they realized this was one such opportunity. Planning began in March 2013 when the foundation contacted the Chief of Police and the Mayor’s Office, both of whom immediately agreed to help.
Next they spent time tracking down the two Batmobiles they would need and contacted an actor, Eric Johnston, to play Batman and the original plan was to have a small ceremony at City Hall where Miles would be presented with the key to the city and a few hundred people might be in attendance to see the ceremony.
What actually made the whole thing explode into the international event it became was social media. Instead of 200 or so volunteer audience members, 16,077 RSVP’ed on the Make-A-Wish website and an estimated 20,000 members of the public attended City Hall. Those numbers don’t necessarily include the thousands of people who lined the streets cheering Miles on every step of the way.
As part of the preparation for Miles' wish, he got to go to circus school. Miles did not know he was going to have such a big day in November and thought that his day at circus school was a large part of his wish.
All of the acrobats who were helping to prepare the shy little guy for his big day dressed as superheroes so that he would think he was attending a superhero training school.
Miles spent his time learning to jump and fall and roll, which may not seem like a lot but for a five-year-old who has had a grueling three years of cancer treatment, it was a truly exhausting effort!
In fact, preparations were made in case Miles was unable to continue during his day as Batkid but as it turned out he was more than ready to spend the day fighting crime.
Although Miles knew he was having his wish granted he had no idea how big the entire project was going to turn out to be. The plucky youngster knew he was going to San Fransisco but thought that the entire trip was just to pick up a Batkid costume. Miles, his parents and his younger brother, who was dressed as Robin, were in the family's hotel room when the real wish began to unfold.
The TV in the room was tuned to a local channel when suddenly, normal programming was interrupted by a special announcement. It was the San Francisco police chief, Greg Guhr pleading for help to fight the sudden crime wave in the city and he didn’t want help from just anyone either. No, the police chief needed help from Batkid.
10He's A Gentleman
There was not just one crime for Batkid to help with either, there were three. First of all, he had to rescue a damsel in distress in downtown “Gotham City” as San Francisco was known for the day. The damsel had her hands bound behind her and was left sitting up against a giant ‘bomb’ and would have surely died in a terrible explosion of green goo courtesy of The Riddler if it were not for Batkid. The dastardly villain didn't even attempt to hide his identity. Instead, he printed question marks all over his bomb and even gagged the damsel in a Riddler emblazoned handkerchief.
The distressed lady had even been left on the cable car tracks in the historic Russian Hill neighborhood, so if the bomb didn't get her, surely she would have been in danger from one of the many world famous San Francisco cable cars.
9Handling A Joker
However, the worlds newest superhero had little opportunity to bask in his achievement and put his feet up because less than an hour later Batman and Batkid were summoned back to Union Square where the police chief told them their help was needed once again.
This time the Riddler was attempting to rob a bank, and despite the best efforts of San Francisco's finest police officers further, help was definitely needed.
So Batman and Batkid jumped in the Batmobile and rushed over to the scene of the crime where they arrived just in time to apprehend the Riddler before he could escape with his ill gotten gains. The Dynamic Duo handed the prisoner over to the police and returned to the Batcave for some well-earned lunch. Even superheroes need to eat you know.
8The Day Ain't Over Yet
The trouble with being such a beloved and efficient superhero is that every time there is a problem you are the one who is going to get the call.
This time it was a call to save the San Francisco Giants mascot Lou Seal from the Penguin. Lou Seal had been kidnapped by the unevenly walking villain and had been locked in a cage at AT&T park until Batman and Batkid came along to his rescue. Crowds filled AT&T Park to cheer on the pair and to thank Batkid for saving the symbol of the city's sporting ambassadors.
Finally, to celebrate and thank Batkid for all of his hard work, the San Francisco Chronicle published a special Gotham City Chronicle with "BatKid Saves City" emblazoned across the front.
7Batkid Gets The Key
As if that were not a long enough day for any superhero to get through, there was even more for little Miles to enjoy.
Finally , Batman and Batkid made their way to City Hall where San Francisco Mayor, Edwin Lee, presented him with a giant, personalised key to the city. Then Miles played a video message from Barack Obama thanking Batkid for saving the city and saying "Way to go, Miles! Way to save Gotham!" while the White House tweeted "Go get 'em!"
U.S. Attorney, Melinda Haag from the US Justice Department unveiled indictments for the Riddler and the Penguin, charging them both with conspiracy. Then Miles was presented with his very own FBI raid jacket and a San Francisco Police Department cap all of his very own.
As always when something beautiful like this happens, there were plenty of grouches. Many websites ran stories wondering how many real crimes went unattended during the adventure and how much the city had to spend on security and crowd control etc.
Thankfully these people were swiftly put in their place and told to go back to their miserable caves until they could find something else good to try and spoil.
None of San Francisco's police were taken off of regular duties for the events, and those officers involved did so on their own time.
In addition philanthropists John and Marcia Goldman read about the Make-A-Wish foundation fundraising to pay back the city's costs for the day. Rather than have the foundation pay the generous couple to write a check for the full $105,000 bill.
The original plan hoped to gather around 200 people for the project but as we said earlier, once the call went out on social media the entire project grew beyond anything anyone had imagined.
Not only were volunteers needed to play the crowds and make Miles feel extra special but Make-A-Wish needed costume designers and creators, actors, make-up artists, videographers, prop builders, the works.
Almost everything you see in the movie and the photographs is the direct result of the generosity of the people of San Francisco and beyond. One man even donated the use of his nice shiny new Lamborghini as the Batmobile so that Batman and Batkid could fight crime around the city in style.
Not only that but people around the world followed his day via social media and even the astronauts on the International Space Station were talking about it online.
4Not All Work
Just like any other superhero Miles had to stop for a refuel and here he is, alongside Batman, having lunch near Union Square. He also had time to have a little fun between saving the city and locking up all of Batman's enemies.
While he was at AT&T fields, he not only rescued the poor kidnapped Lou but Batkid also had the opportunity to run the bases before being thanked by the San Francisco Giants CEO Larry Baer. He also got the chance to use some of the nifty moves he learned at circus school as he had to run, leap and land as he moved around the city throughout the day.
In addition he was able to walk the streets of Gotham City to see all of his fan chanting “Batkid Batkid” and waving their homemade signs thanking him for saving them.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation originally planned to make a ten minute promotional film, highlighting Miles' day as Batkid and indeed videographers volunteered to do this for them, but the whole day was such an incredible phenomenon that other filmmakers asked if they could become a part of the day.
That is how the movie “Batkid Begins” came about and as I said before it is less about Miles and more about the incredible outpouring of generosity that took everyone involved by surprise. Nobody knew when they started planning back in March 2013 just how huge the whole thing was going to be and it might be a good thing they did not - it could have scared them off!
Fortunately for him, Miles’s parents do not like for their son to be in the limelight so although they are beyond grateful for this once in a lifetime day, they do not want him to participate in any further publicity which means “Batkid Begins” will be your only chance to hear the story.
It was not only Miles who benefited from this marvelous day of adventure. The San Francisco chapter of the Make-A-Wish foundation do not disclose how much individual wishes cost but they are happy to reveal that an average wish costs them $7,500. The money is all raised through charitable grants and donations and although they are able to say that no child referred to them is ever turned down for a wish because they do not have the money, it is safe to assume that some wishes might not be as extravagant as the foundation might like.
Miles’ big day did not just benefit Miles though. Due to the incredible amount of publicity for the day, and as a consequence, the Make-A-Wish foundation, the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter saw donations rise and were able to grant a record number of wishes in 2015. That means an amazing 370 children with life threatening or life limiting conditions had their wishes granted.
1The Adventure Continues
In the 'Batkid Begins' movie the filmmakers follow-up a little with Miles and his family and you get to see Miles after his big Make-A-Wish Batkid day. He had the opportunity to throw the first, ceremonial pitch at the San Francisco Giants home opener match in April 2014.
Although the movie does not follow him for long there is still plenty of good news. Miles is now nine years old and enjoying the fourth grade. He plays Little League baseball and his mom and dad have very kindly provided Batkid with a second little brother so if his current Robin does not work out he has a handy replacement!
Most importantly Miles is still cancer free after four years and looks set to be a superhero for many years to come.
Sources: Make-A-Wish Foundation, CNN, ABCNews.com, The Guardian.com,
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