SF officials helping 5-year-old boy transform into superheroFive-year-old Miles already has experience fighting villains - he's been facing off with acute lymphoblastic leukemia since he was 20 months old.
With his cancer in remission and his last bout of chemotherapy finished in June, his biggest wish was to continue living his life heroically. "He wanted to be Batman," said Patricia Wilson, the Make-A-Wish Foundation's Bay Area executive director.
We can do that, Wilson thought, and she began putting the call out to volunteers to help turn San Francisco into Gotham City for a day for the boy from Tulelake (Siskiyou County).
It might as well have been a worldwide Bat-Signal. Word of the foundation's efforts spread quickly on social media, and soon what started as a small effort to make a 5-year-old boy a hero for the day turned into a citywide extravaganza, with support and volunteers coming in from all over.
On Friday, by Make-A-Wish's count, thousands of volunteers will cheer on "Batkid" as he defeats the Riddler and the Penguin at locations around San Francisco. The mayor will present Miles with a key to the city. Police Chief Greg Suhr will step in as Commissioner Gordon to alert Miles when his heroics are needed.
"I thought I could do it on a scale that a 5-year-old would appreciate," said Wilson, whose foundation specializes in granting wishes to children with serious diseases. "But apparently, it's on a scale now that the nation appreciates.
"I've never seen anything go viral like this, with the outpouring of support from across the world," she said.
Suhr said so many people want to help out that officials have had to turn away some volunteers.
"My butcher at the grocery store was asking what he could do, the police commissioners was asking what they could do," he said. "Everywhere I go, the only thing people want to talk about is Batkid. I was just at a meeting with the attorney general, and Kamala Harris said, 'Tell me about Batkid!' "
Miles and his family, who asked that their last name not be released, arrived in San Francisco on Thursday, the foundation said. His parents have been briefed on Friday's events, but Miles still does not know the extent of what's to come.
Wilson credited the spirit of tech-savvy San Francisco, whose residents took to the idea immediately and began spreading word through social media.
"We have done other superhero wishes before at Make-A-Wish, and no city has embraced it like this one," she said. "There's going to be a lot of love in San Francisco on Friday."