Superheroes fight the good fight at Riley




Spiderman, Iron Man, Hulk and Thor bounced from floor to floor as they rappelled down the side of the hospital, using their super powers to bring smiles to sick kids.

By Maureen Gilmer, IU Health senior writer,

Superheroes saved the day at Riley Hospital for Children in Downtown Indianapolis today, bringing smiles and squeals of delight from kids and adults alike.

Spiderman, Thor, Incredible Hulk and Iron Man rappelled down the walls of Riley, stopping at each floor to wave and give high fives to patients gathered in unit playrooms.

Hanging hundreds of feet in the air isn’t for everyone, but these guys are superheroes so they have to be brave, one parent explained to her child, who was watching in wonder.

Then again, the guys hanging outside the window point to the kids and caregivers inside as the real superheroes.

Underneath the capes and masks are everyday heroes Ed Sunday (Spiderman), Ryan Green (Iron Man), Clarence Walker (Incredible Hulk) and Aaron Myers (Thor), all professional window washers with American National Skyline Inc.

“We do it for the kids,” said Sunday. “Everybody pretty much knows someone who’s been at Riley. I have a 31-year-old son who wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Riley.”

“I like helping the kids out and seeing their smiling faces,” agreed Walker.

There was no shortage of smiling faces today, as kids crowded around the windows to give fist bumps through the glass to the costumed crusaders, sending the superheroes bouncing off the walls.

John King, 10, was waiting patiently for Spiderman to appear. When he did, John went over and gave him a high five. Other kids screamed when they saw their favorite character.

Even big kids like nurse Haley Miller got in on the action.

“Nobody told me this was happening,” Miller squealed, as she posed for a photo with the masked men. “How cool is this!”

Later, after she had returned to Earth, she said, “I think it’s awesome that we have these options for the kids to make their stay better and to make them happy.”

Dr. Laurie Ackerman, pediatric neurosurgeon, poked her head in the door on 9 West when she saw the crowd gathered.

“This is the best thing I have seen in a long time,” she said as she took a photo. When a volunteer offered to take her picture with the superheroes, she politely declined, saying, “There are much more important short people in the room.”

Meg Sanders, special events supervisor, spent weeks coordinating today’s special appearance.

“This is our chance to bring some Disney magic to our Riley kids in Indiana,” she said.

After going more than two years without special guests and visitors, today’s event was a treat for everyone. And the timing couldn’t have been better. Today is National Superhero Day, celebrating the real and fictional superheroes in our lives.

See the full photo gallery here.

Photos and video by Mike Dickbernd, IU Health visual journalist,