Friday, November 15, 2013

What Cleveland Can Learn From BatKid

SFBatKid. Yoinked from the SF Make a wish twitter feed. 
As a rule, I think most people are good. Sometimes people need a nudge in the right direction, but I believe that given the opportunity, people want to do nice things for others. The city of San Francisco has reinforced that notion to a level, the likes of which was previously unimaginable. 

5 year old super hero fanatic Miles has leukemia. His mom and dad wrote to the Make A Wish Foundation about their son's wish - to be a super hero. The city responded to the Bat-Signal in a big way. The police have cooperated in the plan. Local stores and even the Chronicle. A Lamborghini bat mobile was donated for the day. The Batkid saved "Gotham" from various super villains and even rescued a damsel in distress. 

The entire city of San Francisco took part in turning into Gotham City for the day. 

Thousands, yes thousands, of everyday people have cheered this little guy on.

But why?

While I stand by my statement that people want to do good things, there is something unique that happens in the core of your very soul when you do something nice for someone else. The best way to describe it is a warm fuzzy. Imagine playing with a pile of puppies and kittens on a bright sunny day. Multiple that giggly mess by 10 and you have a warm fuzzy. 

People bring out the best in people. 

It is much easier to do amazing things for other people as a group. Maybe it is peer pressure (which this kind, I am completely ok with). Maybe it is people don't know *what* to do. Whatever the reason, when a group of people set out to do good, great things are accomplished. 

I'm speaking from experience.

Back in my undergraduate days, I was roped into 'Brush Up On Akron." I say roped into because I was. I really had no desire to, at 5 am the morning after my Formal, show up in the hot sun and paint some old bird's house. It was the Greek community's service project (Fraternity and Sorority kids, not actual Greeks) and being an officer, I had to go. 

I have no shame (ok, maybe a little), telling you that the morning of the event, I was cranky. And hung over. Dear sweet baby wiener dogs, was I hung over. My head was throbbing and I was sweating gin by the time the bus dropped us off at our project house. 

With much muttering, I scrapped the side of this house, paint chips stuck to my sweaty face and speckled in my hair. It was awful. Each time I leaned down I was certain I was going to vomit. 

I took a break in the back yard and what I saw changed my attitude and has stuck with me 20 years later. 

Technically, we weren't supposed to have any contact with the homeowners. But this old bird, she broke the rules. She had punch and cookies set up on an old card table in the garage. I tried to sneak in and grab a cookie and she grabbed my arm. She wanted to know my name. She then introduced me to her grandson,  tearing up as she did. She told him that I was a role model of what he should be when he grew up. Someone that cared more about other people and was willing to take time out for a stranger.

Throughout the day, she was on the phone, calling I don't know who, talking about how these kids were changing her life in ways that she could never repay. 

We were the last crew finished that day, but it was an amazing experience.

And that was it. 

After college, it is more challenging, in my mind anyway, to do good. 

When I lived in Indianapolis, I tried to help out with the Extreme Home Makeover show. I volunteered for 4 am clean up duty and was turned down because they had more volunteers than needed. 4 am cleaning. 

Maybe people want to be on tv. Maybe they want their name in associated with something amazing. Whatever the reason, people want to be involved with something big. If you give someone a small part, they will participate. You can't take a giant chomp out of Moby Dick's butt.  You show up with tartar sauce and a posse of peeps and take care of it one bite at a time. 

Sorry for that ... I'm waiting for my dinner. 

Watching BatKid save the city all day has caused my brain to fixate on one question...What can Cleveland do? 

What can we as a community do as a major project to unite the city, leaving behind a legacy of making the world a better place? I don't want to copy San Francisco with BatKid. I'm not suggesting a beach clean up or a random day of service.

Think big, Cleveland.

No political agendas - just the community uniting together, doing good for the sake of doing good. 

What would be the ideal project?

Let's do this.
Batkid and his little brother.

1 comment:

  1. You know I would be in! I so want Cleveland to be publicized for positive news!