Today was a great day. I premiered my hand made Captain America and Bucky costumes at the H.U.G.s Project fundraiser at the Belle Isle Walmart in Edmond, Oklahoma. We received many compliments, my goggles continually fogged up, I heard some great stories and hopefully helped our American servicemen and women receive much needed care packages.
The costumes looked great. Rick Young, organizer of the fund raiser, had a scaled down replica Thompson machine gun to present to my son when we arrived. Rick had sent progress pictures of the modifications made to the toy gun for weeks. It was finally painted and looked exactly like a real gun complete with scratches in the black paint to reveal faux metal beneath. Rick is the unsung hero who organizes our participation in fund raisers for MDA, Spencer Children’s Hospital, H.U.G.s Project and various other great causes. The man doesn’t get enough credit. He is a saint who waits in the wings and manages to get us all involved. We love him greatly.
While walking the aisles of Walmart we caused the eyes of little boys to brighten as they approached us with open mouths, whispering the name of Captain America. I shook their hands, patted them on the head, and their parents took their pictures with us. One boy asked “Are you real?”, and I replied “I’m standing in front of you, aren’t I? Here, shake my hand.” His little hand took mine and I heard him take in a breath. That part of dressing up in these elaborate costumes for these events is well worth the fogging goggles and the heft of my metal shield making my shoulder sore.
I met veterans. One man, a Korea vet, spoke to me about his life and what he did with it, and almost like Tom Hanks instructed Matt Damon in Saving Private Ryan, gave testimony to how his life made a difference for all those boys who didn’t come home. I met the granddaughter of 82 year old Frank Bickell who left high school to join up with the Army and fight Hitler’s armies. He ended up being part of the first unit to liberate the first concentration camp discovered during the war. He was present when General George S. Patton told his men to take pictures of what they saw because “the folks back home will never believe it.” Mr. Bickell is being honored on May 5th 2012. He will be presented with an honorary high school diploma during the commencement ceremony at Yale High School in Oklahoma. Governor Mary Fallin, Lieutenant Governor Todd Lamb and several other dignitaries will be in attendance. Mr. Bickell wants everyone to know that he is only accepting this diploma for the men in his unit who didn’t make it home, who gave their lives for their country.
We stayed most of the day, celebrated when people donated non-perishable items or money, and had a great time with our friends. I met great people, veterans who selflessly gave up a piece of their life when they were young. Next week is the much anticipated release of the Avengers film. I will be appearing in costume at the Warren Theater with a host of other costumed heroes, but my experience at the fund raiser was a much greater event in the importance of things. It is not every day that we get to meet real heroes.