Locals transform into superheroes
Standing in front of a wKLWH EDFNJURXnG wLWK fiVWV in the air and a long blueDnG-UHG FDSH flRwLnJ EHKLnG him on the morning of Feb. 21, Greg O’Brien looked like he might be faster than a speeding bullet and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.
O’Brien, vice president of County Electric Supply Company in Lansdale, is, in fact, a superhero — one of 20 “Superheroes rnited for Kids” chosen this year by the North Penn rnited Way to be saluted for their efforts on behalf of kids in the North Penn and Indian salley areas.
On Feb. 21, O’Brien and his 19 fellow Superheroes dropped by NPrW’s Kulpsville headquarters one at a time to don capes and white “Live rnited” T-shirts and pose for portrait photographer Marco Calderon in advance of festivities on May 3 at the PineCrest Country Club in Lansdale, where the photos will be unveiled as the group is honored. The shots will appear on other materials designed to raise awareness of the needs of area youth.
Though O’Brien looked like a natural in his cape DV CDOGHURn’V FDPHUD flDVK popped, “it was a little uncomfortable,” he admitted with a laugh. “Maybe if I was 6 it would have been OK. I was trying to think what my kids are going to say when they see the pictures.
“Personally, I’m a little uncomfortable with the title of ‘superhero’ — everybody who’s honored are regular people who are just happy to be able to give back to the community,” added O’Brien, who also serves as executive director of the North Penn Police Activities League and is involved with the YMCA as well. “But it’s really an honor. To be recognized for working with kids is very nice.”
NPrW director of communications Stephanie Simon, who was busy overseeing the photo shoots and helping honorees put on their costumes and channel their inner superheroes, said that “Superheroes rnited for Kids” — now in its second year — is “not only super fun, but it honors a lot of different individuals, in a lot of different capacities, that it takes to make kids’ lives better. It’s people who do everything from work with victims of child abuse to Little League to volunteering with the Juvenile Diabetes Association to working on a school board; it just runs the gamut.”
In addition to O’Brien, this year’s crop of Superheroes, who were chosen by NPrW from a pool of worthy nominees, are the following: Lansdale Mayor Andy Szekely, Bob Haines of K’NEu, Blair Rush of National Penn Bank, Lisa Prinz of Harleysville Insurance, Leon Moyer of rnivest, Montgomery County Commissioner Bruce L. Castor Jr., Sayed Afzal of PDC Machines, Abbie Newman of Mission Kids, Dr. Ronald Souder of Pennridge Pediatrics, Debra Wolfe of the rniversity of Pennsylvania Field Center for Children’s Policy, Practice and Research, Connie Whitson of the MontJRPHUy CRXnWy 2IfiFH RI Child Day Care Services, Geoffrey Brandon of TD Bank, former Montgomery County Commissioner Ruth Damsker, Mike Deskiewicz of Clemens Family Corp., Linda Law of the North Penn School District, Charles and Cynthia Ebersole of Eastern DLYHUVLfiHG 6HUYLFHV, DnG Tony and Mary Mauriello.
Each of this year’s Superheroes was alerted to his or her selection last month in a humorous way: NPrW’s interns, dressed in superhero costumes, showed up at honorees’ places of business to deliver a black box containLnJ D flDVK GULYH, Rn wKLFK was a “Mission Impossible”style video (shot by Simon) requesting that the person become a Superhero.
Simon said Castor was in a commissioner’s meeting when one of the interns showed up in a Spidergirl RXWfiW. “HH wDV VXFK D JRRG sport, and everyone there had a great time with it,” she laughed. “That was one of the ones where I went with the intern, and we didn’t realize there would be 80 people there!”
Simon coordinated all the clandestine visits in advance with associates of the honorees — a lesson she learned from last year’s inaugural “Superheroes rnited for Kids.”
“Given the security these days, we discovered that you should probably let people know that somebody’s coming in costume with a black box,” she said with a laugh.
TD Bank’s Geoffrey Brandon was all smiles after the Feb. 21 photo shoot, saying that he channeled his inner Batman while in front of the lens. “That was a unique experience for me,” he said. “Bankers don’t often get to do photo shoots. But I have to tell you, you actually feel different. Like, ‘I could do this, I could be a superhero, I’ve got the cape!’”
Penn’s Debra Wolfe said that during the shoot she thought of “all the powerless kids that we try to serve and help. I’ve dedicated my life to helping support the victims of child abuse, who are powerless in terms of their own victimization and powerless politically, they really have no voice. So it was wonderful to be able to, on behalf of them, be empowered, and I imagined how much they would have HnMRyHG wHDULnJ WKH RXWfiW even more than I.”
The event at PineCrest Country Club on May 3 is open to the public and runs from 7 to 11 p.m. (there’s a pre-event for sIPs and Superheroes that runs from 6 to 7 p.m.). Admission is $125 for advance general admission tickets, $200 for sIP tickets and $150 for tickets at the door. The evening includes food, drinks, a live dance band and a silent auction. Attendees are encouraged to come dressed as either their favorite superhero or as Clark Kent (i.e. business/cocktail attire). Between tickets and a variety of auction items, NPrW hopes to raise $100,000 to go toward programs designed to aid area students in succeeding in school.
More than that, though, Simon hopes the event will spur more people to get involved in helping kids. “We hope this will become a true signature event in the community and get people talking about what they can do,” she said.
North Penn United Way director of communications Stephanie Simon, right, helps Greg O’Brien as he dons a cape for his photo shoot as one of the “Superheroes for Kids” subjects. At left is photographer Marco Calderon.
North Penn United Way Director of Communications Stephanie Simon, right, helps Debra Schilling Wolf, left, as she dons a cape for her photo shoot as one of the “Superheroes United For Kids” subjects.
Photographer Marco Calderon guides a caped Debra Schilling Wolfe through a series of poses during a shoot for the “Superheroes United For Kids” event, to be held in May by the North Penn United Way.