Boy fighting cancer cheered by Batman’s visit to school
ALBANY, Ind. — Heroes come when people need them the most. And for the community of Albany, rallying around Christian Daugherty — a young boy who was diagnosed with brain cancer almost a year ago — that hero was Batman pulling into Albany Elementary School.
John Buckland dressed as Batman, and his Batmobile pulled into the school recently to visit Christian and his classmates to remind them that everyone will go through something tough in life and to never give up.
It was an injection of hope, the first for Buckland in Indiana, right when a community needed it most.
Christian was diagnosed with a very rare brain tumor last fall after it was discovered he had a tumor the size of a baseball in his brain. The rare cancer has had Christian battling through four brain surgeries, after one of which he had to re-learn to walk and more.
“This family has been so open with their faith and with their hope about Christian, it’s been an uplifting situation,” said Joe Schmaltz, Albany Elementary’s principal. “He’s touched so many of us.”
The Star Press reported in March 2018 that new medication had shrunk the tumor, but Christian’s battle is ongoing. According to his parents, the doctors Christian sees say they are running out of options as the cancer moves into Christian’s brainstem.
Brad and Amanda Daugherty, Christian’s parents, are just thankful for every day that they have with him.
When he was first brought into the hospital and the tumor had ruptured, they thought they might have lost their son. A year later, they are just happy with any time they can be together as a family.
“We just want him to live his life to the fullest,” Amanda said.
Both parents feel that Christian’s story has a message, one they hope resonates with those following along their journey.
“Keep the faith and be faithful to God,” Amanda said.
“Just love each other,” Brad said. “We are positive, and the community has been positive. It’s all about loving each other.”
According to his parents, Christian has kept the faith because of his classmates and community that have rallied around him. Despite all the complications, Christian has pushed to be in school as much as possible.
“He loves it here and he loves the school,” Amanda said.
That made it even better that Batman was able to visit him and his classmates gathered in the school gymnasium.
While Christian is a self- pronounced fan of The Flash, he looked on in wonder during the visit.
“(Christian) was all about it this morning,” Schmaltz said. “He may need to change from Flash to Batman after this one.
Buckland gave him a batarang, which he marveled at for some time as the children and the adults in attendance were told that anyone can be a hero and inspire.
That is the hope that Buckland has tried to instill by taking on the moniker of the caped crusader for the past 6 years. It’s become a calling for him. He served as a firefighter in Iraq and after coming back he said that God gave him the calling to become Batman.
“The secret is to take the painful things and develop a message,” Buckland said.
So far he has helped deliver his message of hope and perseverance with the H4H Foundation to more than 700 schools.
Something you might not see as the Batmobile drives past is a series of plaques on the inside of the hood. Each plaque stands for a child that Heroes for Hire have helped put to rest with many of the children featured having ridden in the Batmobile.
The H4H Foundation works in several ways to help families and communities. They provide lastwish Batmobile rides to youth who are terminally ill, and may also serve as pallbearers.