KNOXVILLE (WATE) – A superhero made a special stop in East Tennessee Wednesday with one mighty mission.
Combine superhuman strength, an array of fancy weapons and the ability to fly and you get one of the greatest superheroes, Iron Man. The iconic comic book figure showed off a different superpower Wednesday: his ability to put smiles on the faces of kids at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.
“The whole point here is to get them to forget about their illness, their pain, any kind of problem they’re going through,” said Dallas Police Department Senior Corporal Damon Cole.
Beneath the red and gold armor is Cole.
“Unfortunately, police officers aren’t looked upon very highly right now,” he said.
Using his own money and vacation time, Cole set out three years ago to change their perception, creating Heroes, Cops and Kids with four fellow Dallas officers. Cole never expected his once small, heartfelt gesture to grow into the nationwide sensation it’s become.
Parents at Children’s Hospital appreciate the joy the visits bring to their kids.Slideshow: Iron Man surprises kids at ETCH
“We just appreciate people coming through and doing something fun,” said parent Kathryn Pafunda.
Cole even drove 13 hours from Dallas to East Tennessee in his tricked out Dodge Charger that he’s re-designed to promote Superman. That’s because, when he’s not Iron Man, Cole dons a Superman suit.
Already, he’s surprised kids from Dallas to Illinois and Knoxville, leaving a lasting impression.
Iron Man meets Rutledge boy with cancer
During his visit to East Tennessee, Cole also met Joshua John Waldrop, also known as J Dub, a 5-year-old Rutledge boy who has stage four lung and liver cancer. Joshua’s family threw him a party Wednesday night so he could meet his idol, Iron Man.
“All for J Dub, absolutely, we’re going to make this the best party of his life,” said Cole.
Cole drove 13 hours from Texas to meet the smiling 5-year-old.
“I found him through Facebook and his story touched my heart,” said Cole.
Cole wanted to brighten his day by being a part of a party that brought the whole town out.
“It’s my way of making a difference,” said Cole.
Cole brought gifts for the little boy, but maybe none quite as special as letting him wear his helmet.
Connie Lampkin, J Dub’s mother, says moments like this are priceless.
“I know that God has to be leading him to do this,” said Lampkin.
Iron Man even received something special in return: a picture.
“The fact that he gave me that, that’s a masterpiece in my book. I’m going to frame it when I get home. It’s something I’ll cherish for the rest of my life,” said Cole.