NUTTER FORT, W.Va. — Everybody has probably had a “crazy idea” at one point in their life that they thought was genius. In the end, they’ll probably never follow through with the “crazy idea.”
John Buckland of Huntington is following through with his: he’s Batman.
Okay, so he’s not actually the caped crusader in the sense that he’s a tormented billionaire doing battle with the Joker on a regular basis. Instead of fighting crime, Batman Buckland goes from town-to-town spreading messages of hope and determination to children.
“The idea hit in the middle of the night, and I thought it was a perfect opportunity to do something in the community if you bring a really good batman visit with a great message,” he said.
Buckland had just returned from two years in Iraq as a firefighter for the Department of Defense, and returned home to what seemed like unwelcome stories on the news every day featuring drugs, crime, and bullying. He thought kids from broken homes, kids battling severe illnesses, and kids just facing general hardships needed something inspiring.
“For me, every time you talk to a new kid you get something new out of it,” he said. “I tell grown-ups this all the time: if more grown-ups got to know some of these kids fighting tough battles, it would change their life. The world would be a different place.”
Now he describes himself as the only “full-time Batman” in the world thanks to the 40 or so appearances he makes per month.
Buckland’s batmobile is actually a “Hope-mobile.” Not only is it street legal, but it also acts as a rolling memorial to children who have lost their battles with severe diseases. He features four major points when he speaks to people:
– Never give up
– Always do the right thing
– Help other people
– Never be a bully
“Wherever the car goes, it’s a rolling memorial for those kids and those families,” he said. “And it’s also a tool used to inspire people to do greater things.”
The car features an inscription on it: “even in darkness, the heart of a child always breaks through.”
“When you hear the message, don’t keep to yourself,” Buckland said. “Spread it, and share it.”