Batkid saves San Francisco in thrilling adventure

Anthony Bongco/Staff
Miles Scott, aka Batkid, leads Batman out to Union Square on his way to saving Lou Seal at AT&T Park.

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SAN FRANCISCO — He was vengeance, he was the night and, for all day Friday, 5-year-old Miles Scott was Batkid.

With a win over cancer under his utility belt, saving San Francisco — transformed into Gotham City for the day — from evildoers and captivating the Bay Area was all in a day’s work for the caped crusader. Thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Miles, now in remission after fighting leukemia since he was 1, was able to fulfill his wish of becoming the superhero he idolizes most, Batman.

“This wish has meant closure for our family and an end to over three years of putting toxic drugs in our son’s body,” said Miles’ mother, Natalie Scott, in a statement.

Under the guise of “Batkid” and alongside an adult “Batman,” Miles raced across the city in a mock-up Batmobile to dispatch threats from a Riddler conundrum on the Hyde Street cable car line and a pernicious Penguin ploy at AT&T Park. The city streets were lined by cheering supporters holding “Batkid” signs at every one of Miles’ stops across San Francisco.

Grant a Wish at Berkeley, a UC Berkeley student organization working in conjunction with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, sent three members to join the crowd of thousands in cheering and seeing a fulfillment of a wish in action, although the group volunteered in no official capacity due to the already large groundswell of professional supporters.

“It was touching to see so many people support a boy that they don’t know,” said Grant a Wish’s volunteer manager, Katherine Trinh. “We were all excited to experience the power of a wish.”

Grant a Wish is working on fundraising for wishes that would send one cancer patient to Hawaii and provide another with a PlayStation or iPad during his recovery in quarantine.

The support poured in from various social media outlets, with actor Ben Affleck tweeting that Miles was the “Best Batman ever” and President Barack Obama saying, “Way to go, Miles. Way to save Gotham” over Vine.
Make-A-Wish Greater Bay Area generally relies on 200 or so individuals to fulfill each of the 300 wishes on average granted per year since 1984. By Wednesday, the organization’s website logged in more than 11,000 RSVPs and ended up with an estimated 12,000 volunteers total — participation of an unprecedented size, according to Patricia Wilson, the foundation’s Bay Area executive director.

“I’ve been with Make-A-Wish for 15 years, and I have never seen a wish this big,” Wilson said. “The whole social media movement of people who wanted to do good and contribute in an amazing way made this possible.”

Twitter called the foundation to help with Wilson’s idea of tweeting the wish in real time, and the media strategy group Clever Girls Collective was enlisted to run the Penguin’s account on the site.

Locally, San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr played the role of Commissioner Gordon in signaling Batkid into action against the Riddler’s attempted bank heist and the Penguin’s kidnapping of San Francisco Giants mascot Lou Seal.

In front of media and a crowd of thousands outside of City Hall, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee gave Miles a key to the city made of chocolate, declaring, “Today, Nov. 15, 2013, is Batkid Day forever.”

Miles can also expect a comic book on the exploits of Batkid from DC Comics, according to Wilson, and even his own theme song composed by Batman film composer Hans Zimmer.

“I hope this event will identify more children that need more help and the resources required to do that,” Wilson said. “We help kids who are fighting a very adult battle — it is such an honor to come into their lives.”

Contact Jeff Landa at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JeffLanda.