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Super visit to WVU Children's Hospital

Chelsea Fuller

The Dominion Post, Morgantown, W.Va

Aug 4, 2012

Dozens of excited children shrieked, "Wow, look ... it's really Batman!" when Batman impersonator Lenny "B as in Batman" Robinson arrived in front of Ruby Memorial Hospital on Friday morning.

With the 1960s "Batman" theme song wailing in the background, Robinson, dressed in a 40-pound suit, drove up in a custom-built Batmobile to visit patients at WVU Children's Hospital.

Formerly the owner of a cleaning business in Owings Mills, Md., Robinson, 48, has spent the last 11 years visiting children's hospitals dressed as Batman.

"I dress as Batman because he is a real person. Not to knock Spider-Man or Superman, but Batman is a real person with natural skills and powers. Kids relate to Batman because of that. I'm not like SpongeBob who lives under the sea, I'm real. Well, at least I think I am," Robinson said, laughing.

WVU Children's Hospital was the final stop on Robinson's most recent tour, which included appearances at Peyton Manning Children's Hospital, in Indianapolis, Children's Hospital of Illinois, in Peoria, Ill., and Nationwide Children's Hospital, in Columbus, Ohio, according to a media release.

After the July 20 shooting in Aurora, Colo., at a midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises," St. Louis Children's Hospital and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital, of Chicago, canceled Robinson's appearances. Those visits were scheduled only days after the incident. Hospital administrators believed images of the tragedy were still too fresh.

Leigh Limerick, spokeswoman for WVU Healthcare, said Robinson's appearance at WVU Children's Hospital was scheduled months before the shooting.

After shaking hands and giving hugs, high-fives and gifts to kids outside, Robinson made his way into children's hospital where he spent time with what he calls the "real superheroes."

Jenna Tuttle, 7, was shocked and surprised when a hospital staffer told her Batman was there to visit her.

Tuttle, who recently had surgery on her left arm, talked and laughed with Batman and even had him sign her cast and a notebook.

"I think this has really made her happy," said Joel Tuttle, Jenna's father. "She's been kind of down lately, so just seeing her smile makes me very happy."

In 2001, Robinson began making monthly visits to children's hospitals in the Baltimore area, he said. But now, he dons his suite and cape three to four times a week.

"I was doing it more as a part-time job then; just visiting kids like four or five times a month. But now, I'm doing it about 12 times a month because I can tell I'm making a difference in their lives," Robinson said.

Robinson was thrust into the national spotlight in March, when a police video of him being pulled over in Silver Springs, Md., went viral.

"I was driving my black Lamborghini dressed in my Batman costume, and got pulled over because my license plate was just the Batman symbol," Robinson said, pointing to the symbol on his utility belt.

The video made Robinson a YouTube sensation, but more importantly, he said it brought attention to his mission of helping sick children.

"It's all about the kids and making them feel better, that's what's important and sometimes I think we lose sight of that," he said.

No payment is required from any of the hospitals Robinson visits, he said.

"I do it for the kids. The costs of the costume, the car, gas, insurance, everything is done on my own dime," he said.

Robinson's website, superheroesforkids.org, has a place where people can make donations to assist him.

"When I make my visits, I just ask that the hospitals consider making a donation to my website; some do and some don't."

Before the end of each visit, Robinson always has one final request for kids.

"l always say, 'I need you to do Batman a favor, and get better,' " he said. "Getting well is a mental thing as much as a physical one. It's in their minds. I ask them to get better and they say, 'Yes, Batman I will get better, I promise.' Kids are getting better and I'm helping them."

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(c)2012 The Dominion Post (Morgantown, W.Va.)

Visit The Dominion Post (Morgantown, W.Va.) at www.dominionpost.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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