Tuesday, September 26, 2017 Elyria 89°


Elyria to host virtual comic book experience for children


ELYRIA — Children read comic books to imagine what it would be like to be a superhero.

But what if — even just for one day — the experience could be real?

That’s what a group of local organizers is hoping to pull off Saturday, May 3. In a new event in Elyria, the plan is to give a dozen local children a virtual comic book experience complete with an evil plot to foil and villain to bring down.

Think Batkid and San Francisco come to Ely Square in Elyria.

Brian Chulik, the founder of Super Heroes to Kids in Ohio, said he and his caped-crusader friends want to help dreams come true.

“Whether it’s fighting through illness or having had to rise up in a heroic fashion, we want kids that not only need a hero themselves, but should be lauded as heroes on their own,” Chulik said. “We can do that. We want to do something positive in the community. We want to make a difference somehow in a small way.”

May 3 coincides with National Free Comic Book Day.

The pint-sized participants will include hospital patients in need of a day off and youngsters nominated by parents or community members who want to give a deserving child a comic book experience.

Ely Square will be the headquarters for the operation. Several businesses have offered support including The Chronicle-Telegram, Fifth Third Bank and Keith’s Comics.

The Ohio National Guard will help the youngsters save the day. There is no telling who else may show up — Superman, Capital Marvel, Hawkeye, Captain American, Supergirl, The Joker, Green Lantern, Thor or Spiderman, perhaps.

Mayor Holly Brinda jokingly said she may even don a cape as she salutes the young stars with a proclamation.

“I have to get into the day,” she said. “It will certainly be an interesting day.”

Chulik, 46, said the details are coming together perfectly with a highly guarded script being written to make sure everyone knows his or her part. It’s all about making sure the kids save the day, and the community understands good things still happen, he said.

“We have been attempting to do something like this for some time,” he said. “Our hope is to inspire others and honor real-life heroes with the super-hero motif. There is tremendous strength in the stories of individuals and families overcoming odds, battling adversity and giving others around them hope. These are the people in our society who we should be recognizing and honoring.”

National Free Comic Book Day events actually begin Thursday, said Richard Hooper, who is organizing Super Hero Weekend.

“We expect at least 400 people and are very excited,” he said.

At the Elyria Public Library’s West River Branch, the Elyria Comic Book Initiative will host a create-your-own-comic-book workshop for youngsters 6 to 8 p.m.

Friday, festivities will pick up at Atlas Cinemas at Midway Mall. From 4 to 8 p.m., guests will meet their favorite superheroes and there will be a special screening of the Amazing Spiderman 2.

Saturday, Keith’s Comics on Broad Street will distribute comic books 11:30 a.m. until supplies last. The Burning River Roller Girls roller derby team and artists will be on hand to do sketches and caricatures throughout the day.

The skit-driven virtual comic book will be the capstone.

This may be the first time a virtual super hero event has been plotted in Elyria, but it is not the first time Super Heroes to Kids in Ohio have donned their costumes.

The group started in 2010 as the brainchild of North Ridgeville resident Chulik, who credits the Cleveland Clinic with saving his life after doctors there discovered he was suffering from a ruptured appendix.

While in the hospital, he saw many young patients struggling to recover from serious illnesses. It inspired him to start the group and enlist many of his friends to go around to area hospitals to visit young patients dressed as superheroes.

“The first time I walked into a hospital room, the kids’ faces just lighted up,” he said. “They inspired us just as much as we lifted their spirits for that day. They are the real heroes. We were just in costumes for a day.”

To nominate a child who deserves a superhero experience, visit superheroestokidsinohio.com.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @LisaRobersonCT.

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