[SFAH Note – Here’s a worthy cause to support, being led by Dustin, the author of the below post. To make a contribution, use PayPal to the address: firstname.lastname@example.org — For further info, follow Dustin’s FaceBook page: Dustin Dorough official ]
In the coming weeks, I had hoped to be working a job with the Spartan Race in the Boston area. With the help of a close friend, I had arranged to appear at a children’s hospital in the region as Superman before I flew back home. The hospital staff was really excited about how thrilled the kids were going to be; I was asked if I could come visit the female teenage cancer patients because they all feel so unattractive due to losing their hair from chemo, and how happy they’d be to get a visit from a handsome gentleman who is actually nice to them. I found out recently that I’m not going to be working at the event in Boston. This news really bummed me out; not so much because of the missed income, but because I hated to have to cancel the hospital visit. I’d rather spend my time being productive than depressed, so I went straight to work on a solution.
I started looking around for ways to make that visit happen anyway. I was pricing plane tickets, bus tickets, calculating fuel costs to make the drive alone, etc. Then, I began to think…instead of driving to visit ONE hospital, why not go to ALL of the hospitals? I am going to embark upon a journey like none that has ever been attempted before. I am going to use my new movie-quality Superman costume to visit a children’s hospital in every one of the 48 continental United States and possibly one or two in Canada.
As part of these visits, I will be giving the kids autographed pictures of Superman (photography will be by Adam Jay of Superhero Photography, a great friend and fantastic photographer) as well as a professionally-printed certificate of heroism for inspiring others to be strong by being so brave in facing the endeavors involved with their illnesses. This will be a kicking-off for my previous plans of mailing these items to children nationwide. I still have plans to do this for the kids that I can’t realistically visit anytime soon, and especially for in other English-speaking countries. For the more terminal patients that I can’t visit in person, I plan to record a personalized video with an inspirational message from Superman explaining just how proud I am of them for being so strong and for sharing their strength with others. This road trip will be a great way to get some publicity for the project and strengthen my reputation as an actual charity worker and not just somebody who randomly wants to hang out with strangers’ kids while I wear tight clothing.
As currently planned, this voyage will begin on September 3, 2012 and will last as long as possible. I’ll still be working my regular job while on the road (luckily I fly to each of my Spartan Race gigs where I work as their emcee, so I can fly out of airports along the way), so I might be on the road for two months or more. I will be taking a ten-day break in October to come back to Florida to assist in the fundraising efforts for Project: LEX, a charitable venture organized by Carlos Blanchard and Adam Jay to help pay the medical expenses of our good friend Brian David Wolfe.
I’ve spent much of the past few days researching prospective hospitals and plotting the course while trying to calculate the expenses of such a journey. Now, I’m sure you’re wondering how I’m going to pay for all of this. Adam and I are setting up an Indiegogo campaign to help raise the funds. There will be various incentives for the different donation tiers, but we’re still figuring out exactly what they will be. The Indiegogo page will be launched after Adam and I have gotten pictures of my new suit and I have filmed a pitch video in character. The new suit is being made by Custom-Costumes and I can’t say enough about how excited I am for you all to see it. I’m only asking for the bare minimum in this campaign to cover fuel and food. I’m going to be sleeping in my car or on friends’ sofas along the way. (Even at $40, it would cost almost $3000 to stay in a hotel every night.) If the fundraising page ends up surpassing the goal by a significant amount, I might stay in an inexpensive hotel from time to time.
I’m going to be documenting the entire trip with photos and videos, as well as setting up a website with a blog. My Facebook page will remain active and shall be linked with my Twitter account so everyone can follow my journey. The purpose of this trip is not only to visit sick kids and help brighten their days, but also to inspire all who see it and to remind them that there are still good people out there. This trip is a massive effort in leading by example. Too many times have I seen someone with good intentions hold back for fear that they are alone in their desires to be a good person. The most important job of a superhero isn’t saving people directly, but instead to inspire them to save each other as well as themselves.
In addition to the monetary fundraising campaign, I will also be setting up a P.O. box where tangible donations can be sent. These can be anything from unwanted gift cards for restaurants, to gas cards, letters, etc. I will be seeking alliances with business that will vouch for me, my character, and my intentions along this journey to inspire people to believe in me and what I’m doing. These businesses will also hopefully aid in promotion of the project and my page in general. So far, SuperheroStuff.com and Superhero Photography by Adam Jay are my main affiliates and I couldn’t be more proud to say so.
Since going public with this project slightly more than a week ago, the public support has been TREMENDOUS. I can’t even put it into words how amazing everyone has been. The project was originally supposed to be the eastern coast of the United States, then just the eastern half and now I’ve just had to extend it to include the entire continental U.S. because of all of the pledges of donations and sheer requests for my appearance in different states. After I started getting messages saying that I was restoring someone’s faith in the goodness of humanity, I suddenly realized that I no longer had a choice in the matter of this trip. All in an instant, this journey went from being a fun idea and a passing thought straight into being an absolute responsibility. I’m honored to be the one going on this journey, but I just hope that I’m able to live up to the ideals associated with that “S” on my chest.
Right now, we’re raising money for the start-up costs of this project. This will include all of the various promo materials such as fliers, banners, business cards, website, etc. as well as the photos for the kids along with certificates and other assorted gifts for the children. I managed to score an amazing deal through a company called Proforma for all of the printed materials. They’re giving me everything for less than 1/4 the price of other online bulk printing shops. I’m blown away by what they’re doing for this project.
I will be attending Wizard World Chicago with SuperheroStuff.com and working their booth as well as doing promotions for Hospital Heroes around the convention. Everyone who makes a purchase from the SuperheroStuff booth will get a flier in their bag about the Hospital Heroes project. I have also applied for a Fan Table at Dragon*Con, so there might also be chances for fundraising there as well.