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November 21, 2013

'Batkid' saves city

5-year-old California boy a smash hit as super hero

SAN FRANCISCO — Dressed in a black Batman costume, his fists clenched as he took on foe after foe around San Francisco, a 5-year-old boy who has battled leukemia for years fulfilled his wish recently to be his favorite superhero.

In the process, Miles Scott became a darling of social media and attracted thousands of fans around the country, including the White House.

"When you have an illness, it's very important to know you have a support system," said Gina Futrell, a 51-year-old with multiple sclerosis, who was among a large crowd gathered at Union Square for a chance to so see the "Batkid" in action. "I have an extremely strong support system, and I hope he does too. He's such a little hero."

Batkid was called into service by Police Chief Greg Suhr and spent the day zooming from one "crime scene" to the next. Accompanied by an adult Batman impersonator, Batkid rescued a damsel in distress from cable car tracks, captured the Riddler as he robbed a bank, and saved the San Francisco Giants mascot — Lou Seal — from the Penguin's clutches.

Miles was able to fulfill his wish through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the city and volunteers who stepped forward to help. He was diagnosed three years ago, underwent chemotherapy treatment and is now in remission.

Batkid had a police escort worthy of a dignitary as he sped around the city in a black Lamborghini with a Batman decal, with officers blocking traffic and riding alongside him on motorcycles. The White House sent out a tweet encouraging Batkid to "Go get 'em!" In a video recording, President Barack Obama said, "Way to go, Miles! Way to save Gotham!"

The crowds grew after each stop, reaching into the thousands by the time Miles got to Union Square for lunch at the Burger Bar atop Macy's. Spectators climbed trees and clambered up lampposts, and police and organizers struggled to keep a path open for the motorcade, which drove past onlookers lining the streets six deep for several blocks.

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