Health + Behavior

Superhero window washers brighten a long stay in the hospital

They lift spirits of young patients and their families at Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA

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Herold Trejo, 7, and the Hulk
Reed Hutchinson/UCLA

The Hulk fist-bumps with 7-year-old Herold Trejo, a liver transplant patient who has been in the hospital for 10 months. The annual Superhero Day at UCLA is a welcome respite for children and their families and a rewarding experience for the costumed window washers.

Kids at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA received a sweet superhero surprise today. 

Descending three stories from the roof of the hospital to a fifth-floor terrace, window washers dressed as Batman, Captain America, Spider-Man, the Hulk and Wonder Woman entertained and posed for photos with young patients and their families at the third annual Superhero Day at UCLA.

For 10-year-old Sky Assaf, today was a banner day. The little girl was supposed to be in surgery but was feeling well enough for her UCLA doctors to postpone her procedure. Instead, Sky got to meet her favorite superhero — Wonder Woman.

“This is icing on the cake that she also gets to meet these superheroes,” said her mother Dr. Marlice Patam, a UCLA oral and maxillofacial surgeon.

The hospital’s window-washing vendor, Sunland Window Cleaning of Brea, California, created Superhero Day at UCLA in 2013 and once again donated its services and provided costumes for the event. The window washers said they found it very rewarding to bring smiles to the faces of the pediatric patients, many of whom are coping with serious illnesses that require them to be hospitalized for weeks or months at a time.

Reed Hutchinson/UCLA
A young patient with a hearing impairment teaches Batman the sign for his name.

"It’s really gratifying to see how this event brings the kids outside of their rooms and makes them smile and feel happy inside," said Sylvia Pulido, who dressed up as Wonder Woman for the second year in a row to cheer up her pediatric fans.

“I am thankful that I’m able to participate in this event,” said Marcus Gallo who donned the Hulk’s persona for the day. “It’s my very first day on the job,” said the father of two. “This is such a wonderful experience for the kids, and it’s been very personally rewarding for me.”

Pediatric liver transplant patient Herold Trejo, 7, got to meet his favorite superheroes, Batman and Spider-Man. He also fist-bumped with the Hulk. The special visit was a welcome respite from Herold’s 10-month hospitalization and brought big smiles to his mother and sister as well.

Kellye Carroll, director of the Chase Child Life program at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA, said she’s watched even the sickest kids come alive when they’re face-to-face with the superheroes. She called today’s superhero visit “life-changing” for many of the patients.

“Events like this really help our kids pretend they are not here in the hospital for just a bit,” said Carroll. “We have children who are battling cancer, recovering from organ transplantations and coping with other conditions that require them to be hospitalized for months at a time. Today they get to socialize with superheroes, not just their medical team.”

Rick Kincer of Sunland Window Cleaning said he feels proud to be part of an event that means so much to the patients. “We as a company look forward to Superhero Day at Mattel Children’s Hospital every year," he said. "We do this event for the children and their families to hopefully put a smile on their faces and [give] them a small break away from their daily grind. It was great.”

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