ShareThis Page
Nation

Make-A-Wish allows boy to be superhero for a day

| Friday, June 6, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — When Jaylen Hyde woke up on Friday — his 9th birthday — and turned on the TV, his jaw dropped.

A phony breaking news segment — recorded just for him by the local NBC station — called on Jaylen to become superhero Striker Boy and save South Florida from the villain Sneaky Pete. It was all part of a surprise staged event to fulfill a superhero dream for Jalen, who is undergoing chemotherapy to fight leukemia.

“He was very excited. Totally geeked,” said his mother, Dalia Rodriguez, who had managed to keep all the preparations secret.

Dressed in a gray costume and blue mask based on a superhero he had invented, Jaylen was cheered by dozens of volunteers as he arrived at Nova Southeastern University's soccer practice field in a yellow Ferrari Italia.

He defused a fake bomb, got a helicopter ride, fought a fire, and arrested the green-faced Sneaky Pete for stealing a puppy. Jaylen then took the villain to jail and held a news conference.

The event was similar to one held in San Francisco last year for a 5-year-old cancer patient who wanted to be Batkid for the day, drawing worldwide attention.

Jaylen, who was diagnosed in January 2013 and is now in remission, was guided through the scenarios by a professional actress in the role of policewoman Shadow and accompanied by his 13-year-old brother, Daishawn, as sidekick Falcon Boy.

Smiling with tight lips, Jaylen seemed a bit overwhelmed by the news cameras and all the outpouring. “Striker Boy, Striker Boy,” volunteers chanted.

When asked by reporters about his day, Striker Boy proved to be the strong and silent type, saying only “I can see through the future and I can fly.”

The Make-A-Wish Foundation, which grants the wishes of seriously ill children, started preparing the event more than a year ago at its South Florida chapter.

Jared Fink, who works with the foundation, interviewed Jaylen and noticed from the start that he was a huge superhero fan. “Whatever superhero movie is out there, he sees them all,” Fink said.

Organizers decided to let Jaylen's imagination run, letting him create his own superhero instead of adapting an existing one.

Norman Wedderburn, president and CEO of the regional chapter, said the average wish costs $5,000, but the Friday wish was well in excess of that. He said he wasn't able to provide a figure because many donations had been in kind.

“It's not about the money. It's about granting them one heartfelt wish that they ask for. Whether it's a superhero wish or going to Disney World, we are going to give them all the effort that we have,” Wedderburn said.

The Make-A-Wish chapter in South Florida has been granting wishes to more than 9,500 local children with life-threatening illnesses since 1983. A visit to Disney World is the most popular request, followed by travel, shopping sprees and meeting a celebrity.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me