San Diego, USA – June 2013
I attend a charity outreach run by Real Life SuperHeroes in San Diego focused on fighting crime, feeding the homeless, and friendship.
Last week I briefly explained my entrance into the wonderful world of Real Life SuperHeroes (RLSH), but left on an anti-climatic cliffhanger about joining them in San Diego. Today I tell the rest of that story.
Organizing and running a charity alone is difficult. I learned this the slow and disappointing way. After some difficulties, I turned to the online RLSH community for help with ideas ranging clear from collecting donations all the way to distributing said donations. I learned of an outreach event, titled Project HOPE, to take place in San Diego the next month. I quickly cleared my & my roommate’s schedule to take part. Some of the big guns of the RLSH community would be there… as if I needed another excuse to go to San Diego for a summer weekend.
A month later we were in San Diego, in a giant parking lot surrounded by other superheroes. We had a roll call of sorts and everybody got to introduce themselves. People were there from a handful of RLSH groups, some Initiative chapters, paranormal hunters, and friends & family who had been convinced to come along. Two sizeable groups had come clear from Virginia and Seattle to attend (4,000 and 2,000 kilometers away, respectively). While San Diego’s Xtreme Justice League (a collection of RLSH dedicated to fighting crime) was hosting the event and had set up the timeline, the Initiative (A community outreach group with chapters in several major cities) had the most people present and provided the muscle. Initiative branches had shown up from Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Virginia, and Salt Lake City. About half of the people were dressed up heroically, though many were wearing steampunk outfits or similar things- people who didn’t buy into the superhero bit but wanted to dress for the occasion.
After the roll call, we unloaded our cars to prepare for the handout. There was a ton of food. And sunscreen. And backpacks. I had signed up to bring 200 bottles of water so I tossed the cases into the middle of the assembly line and got to work. We made 200 lunches, plus countless other packets that contained basic toiletries and sunscreen. After a couple hours of introductions and putting kits together we piled in the available vehicles and drove to the handout site. I had the pleasure of driving Razorhawk and his daughter, plus my roommate/superpartner Wolfman. Razorhawk is internet famous for being a core part of the HBO documentary Superheroes as well as a deliciously awkward Fox News interview. He also runs an amazing custom sew shop that caters to the RLSH and wrestling crowds, and much of my backpack.
At the site we grouped with members of San Diego’s XJL, who guided us along our routes. I teamed with XJL’s Vigilante Spider and Grimm, easily the most charismatic person I met that year, plus some of the Los Angeles Initiative. Dozens of us spent the next several hours walking through San Diego’s skid row in full superhero regalia while donating to and hanging out with the homeless, a circus if I’ve ever seen one.
We took a break then, with many headed to a house rented for the occasion. Myself and my roommate headed to the beach. We suddenly regretted having previously sold our longboards.
Some of the crew regrouped that night to do a patrol. These are billed by many as a crime fighting adventure but usually involve stopping drunks from driving and making sure women can get around at night safely. Just as important, but not nearly as sexy. Deterrence is much more common (and effective) than confrontation.
That night myself and my roommate tried to sleep in my truck bed, but that thing gets amazingly hot and stuffy at night. We drove back to Tucson and arrived in the morning. The rest of the group spread out between XJL members’ floors, hotels, and the rented house.
The next day, everyone was on a plane or in a car to return to their 9 to 5 life. And planning for HOPE 2014.
So why do I tell this story now, two years later and a hemisphere away? Because HOPE 2015 is approaching and funds are short. Backpacks and sleeping bags don’t pay for themselves. If this story struck a chord or inspired you, please consider donating to HOPE so they can put together more kits. Or let San Diego’s homeless continue to suffer. Whatevs.
While I can’t attend HOPE this year, I’m currently organizing Altruistas Anónimas in Chile. But that is another story and shall be told another time in part three.