ATLANTA - Children's Healthcare of Atlanta was crawling with red capes today, as Georgians celebrated the 4th annual Cape Day Atlanta. Inside Children's AFLAC Cancer and Blood Disorders Center at Egleston, 11-year old Kiemon Crawford of Columbus tried on a red cape he wasn't expecting, when he arrived for his monthly blood transfusion for sickle cell disease. Crawford, who survived a stroke at 4, says his favorite superhero is Spiderman.
"Because he can shoot webs, and he saves a lot of people," Crawford says.
Yet, Crawford says, growing up with sickle cell has forced him to be strong, too. He says being sick has taught him, "to be brave, and to be confident." Down the hall, Katie Rutherford, a 16-year old Parkview High School junior from Lilburn, Ga. diagnosed in March with rhabdomyosarcoma, a cancer that attacks the muscles, soft tissues and bones, waited for a chemotherapy infusion, wearing a red cape.
"We're all heroes here," Rutherford says. "Everyone who works here is a hero, and all the kids who come here are, too."
Many of the AFLAC Cancer Center nurses sported capes, in solidarity with Children's young patients, like Katie Rutherford. She says she's grown up a lot since her diagnosis 7 months ago.
"I'm more confident; I can walk into a room with no hair, and it doesn't bother me anymore," Rutherford says. "I have more self-love. I enjoy every day. Because you, tomorrow you could get diagnosed with cancer. I just try to live every day fully, and try to enjoy every day."
AFLAC nurse Natasha Wijesooriya says when she looks around at all the young patients wearing capes, she sees "hope."
"I think it helps to make them feel powerful, which they are," Wijesooriya says. "It brings them joy to a tricky situation. And it's fun. Everybody wants to be a superhero. I like wearing my cape."
So does, apparently, 10-month old Jeremiah Johnson, who is so small he gets a little lost in his cape.
Born with medical complications that caused him to lose a thumb, his mom Michelle White, says Jeremiah is the strong one. White says she's in the U.S. Army, but Jeremiah is the real soldier.
"Because I was nervous at first," White says. "But, I look at him, and he wasn't crying. He didn't worry about nothing. So, why should I?"
Because, like all great superheroes, Jeremiah Johnson soldiers on.