EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSHeroes4Higher Aims To Inspire Communities To Do Good, Support Children
from Eyewitness News Online
Reported by: Bethany Simmons
Web Producer: Bethany Simmons
Also Contributing: Elizabeth Noreika
Reported: Nov. 15, 2013 11:57 AM EST
Updated: Nov. 16, 2013 1:21 AM EST
Huntington , West Virginia
A group based in Huntington is hoping to encourage communities everywhere to support their children in whatever circumstances they encounter.
Earlier this week, some of the Heroes4Higher superheroes took on the role of pallbearers for a Logan County child who lost his life at age 4.
Gabe Lyall of Man was diagnosed with hepatoblastoma, a rare liver cancer found in children, on March 24, 2012, his mother Erina Lyall said.
After four rounds of chemotherapy including a clinical trial in Morgantown, the cancer metastasized, giving Gabe just months to live, but never breaking his spirit.
Erina said that each day Gabe woke up, he requested to be addressed as a particular superhero for the day.
“Gabe felt safe among the superheroes of Heroes4Higher. When they came to visit him, he didn’t feel like a sick child. He felt like he was saving the world along with them. He saved a lot of people.”
Heroes4Higher founder John Buckland stressed the impact that Gabe has had on the organization.
“Gabe was the strongest, most resilient child I’ve ever met in my life,” Buckland said.
Now a picture of the heroes carrying Gabe’s casket has gone viral. The photo, taken by Mary Ann Robinson, Gabe’s aunt, was seen by nearly 300,000 people in just 24 hours, Buckland said. See the photo on the organization's Facebook.
The men in the picture were the heroes who had visited Gabe during his battle with cancer. Buckland said that Gabe never saw the heroes faces, but as the men carried him to his final resting place, they removed their masks to honor and respect him.
Pictured here are Shaun Foster as Night Wing, Bradley Allen as Spiderman, Todd Ramsey as Captain America and John Buckland as Batman.
Later this month, Heroes4Higher will take part in “Gabe’s Feed the Hungry with the Heroes, Food Drive at Mallory Church of God.” The collection drive will take place Sunday, Nov. 24 at the church. Learn more about how you can donate here.
Since its creation in September of 2012, Heroes4Hire has taken messages to an estimated 70,000 children through events at schools, churches, hospitals and the public, Buckland said. The goal is to inspire children to “Be The Hero” in whatever situation life brings.
Earlier this year, the group gained national attention when they were teaching a lesson to a group of children in Milton, West Virginia and saw smoke coming from a nearby home. They ran to the scene and were able to rescue the family cat. You can watch that story on YouTube.
“It’s not about us. It’s about the children and what they go through – the adversity, the abuse, the bullying and illnesses. We do this for the kids,” Buckland said.
Since September, Buckland said he has shared a message about bullying to some 50 schools throughout the area. “Everywhere we (Heroes4Higher) goes, we take a piece of Gabe with us to the other children we visit,” Buckland said.
Gabe's parents, Erina and Josh, told Eyewitness News they plan to establish a scholarship fund in memory of their son. Erina said that she believes Gabe’s message is a simple one.
“No matter what your situation, you can overcome it. You can save somebody else in the process. And he (Gabe) did," Erina said.
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