Lo­cals trans­form into su­per­heroes

North Penn Life - - Front Page - By Michael Alan Gold­berg mgold­berg@jour­nalregis­ter. com

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.

Pho­tos by GE­OFF PAT­TON

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.

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