Patients at Seattle Children’s Hospital on Saturday were transformed into superheroes, each receiving a personalized cape with their initial sewn into the fabric right before their eyes, thanks to Capes4Heroes, an organization that makes capes for kids with disabilities, life threatening illnesses or kids who just need to feel empowered. There were many different cape designs to choose from, from Batman to bright pink sequins. Each child got to pick their own.
Strength and courage were two abilities the capes helped to bring out in the kids, who often spend a great deal of time in and out of the hospital.
Tricia Bertsch, playroom coordinator at Seattle Children’s, knows all too well how empowering a cape can be to a child. Bertsch’s son, Calvin, who visits Seattle Children’s frequently, wanted to wear his cape 24 hours a day, 7 days a week when he first received it.
“He doesn’t have control over what’s happening to his body and that can be really difficult,” said Bertsch. “The cape gives Calvin a sense of control. Whether it’s because he’s being admitted, going to the emergency room, or visiting the hospital for a clinic appointment, the first question he always asks is if I packed his cape.”
Creating smiles from fabric
Barbara Casados, who founded Capes4Heroes four years ago, was first inspired to make capes for kids after she saw how something so simple could empower her son Maddox in such a miraculous way. Diagnosed with autism at 2 years old, Casados said everyday was a struggle. Maddox, who was non-verbal, would attack Casados when she tried to dress him and so one day she experimented with letting him wear a cape. Maddox loved it and wore it almost every day.
“I started making capes to meet Maddox’s needs, but soon after, started making them for my friends’ children as well,” said Casados.
When requests for more capes started coming in, Casados couldn’t help but make more. Soon, she was donating capes to children’s hospitals across the country.
“It’s all for smiles,” said Casados. “You see smiles and hear testimonials. It’s not just fabric – it’s a shield. It really empowers kids and shows them how loved and supported they are.”
Bringing capes to kids in Seattle
Saturday’s event was made possible by Ryan Hollis who sponsored the organization’s trip from California to Seattle. Hollis, the chief operating officer of Mervin Manufacturing, was inspired to bring Capes4Heroes to Seattle Children’s after seeing what great care his employees’ children had received there.
“I wanted to get involved and help in any way I could,” said Hollis.