‘I just want to do some good in the world’: Superheroes of Victoria brighten hospital stays for kids

'I just want to do some good in the world': Superheroes of Victoria brighten hospital stays for kids

It’s not what you’d expect to see coming down a hospital hallway, but the Superheroes of Victoria are just what the doctor ordered.

“I just wanted to do some good in the world. I mean, when you get right down to it, that’s all superheroes are,” says Greg Foster, who dresses up as Captain America. “They’re just people who use their abilities and their resources to help people and do some good in the world.”

When Captain America, Superman, Superwoman, and Bat Girl drop by the Victoria General Hospital pediatrics ward for a surprise visit, it’s all smiles.

“This is a nice break to kind of break up the monotony a little bit of being here for sure,” says Stephanie Gillen, whose young son, Finley, is in hospital. “It was a lot of fun.”

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The Superheroes of Victoria volunteer group has about 300 members and their special power is brightening spirits and spreading joy.

“Even just standing downstairs in the entryway, you have all these kids smiling and their faces just brighten up and just right away you get into character and you just can’t wait to wave and,  shake their hand or give them a hug,” says Superwoman Kayla Sousa.

Superman Mark Ashfield started the group — which also helps raise money for Vancouver Island charities — 15 years ago, and he has a very personal reason for giving back.

“I spent a lot of time in a children’s hospital on the East Coast growing up and I had an amazing set of staff, specifically a doctor that was a huge Superman fan, and he always reminded me that I had more strength than I thought I did,” Mark says.

Paying it forward, Mark and his superhero sidekicks can be seen all over Victoria,  and thanks to a partnership with Island Health, they’re usually at VGH on the last Friday of the month.

“We love all of our volunteers, but the superheroes are special because they come regularly, and it’s just something different for the kids,” says Angela Morehouse of Island Health. “They see superheroes on the TV, and they sort of idolize that, and to have a personalized visit is just so special.”

It’s also a reminder that not all superheroes wear capes — and we all have the power to make a difference.

“We can brighten up the day of not just the kids and the families, but the staff as well,” Mark says. “We get to dress up as superheroes  but the staff here have been spending their whole life as heroes in scrubs.”

“We say anybody can be a superhero because any of us can do that,” Greg adds. “We just have to have the will to help people and do some good.”

Tess van StraatenTess van Straaten

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