It all began when I was a child of seven. My mother was verbally abusive to me and I needed something to help me deal with her mania. Then suddenly…the Batman came into my life.
One of my friends left a Batman comic at my home and I began to read it. What intrigued me was that Batman did a great deal of good without anyone knowing who he was as Bruce Wayne. He used his wealth well and for the sake of helping those who could not help themselves. This was deeply appealing to me. Like Robin Hood and Zorro, I found myself feeling the need to do the same.
Beneath the dark denim of that stern figure of the night...Batman!...beats a tender, generous heart. A heart that can be merciful to the unfortunate...and can soften to the whispers of Love. -The Batman, 1943
As I grew up I never let the Dark Knight out of my inner sight. I would practice doing acts of kindness and generosity without anyone knowing it was me. This continued throughout my lifetime. In 1973, I became an ordained Minister and as I began working with people who were ill and dying, it became apparent to me that I wanted to change the course of my giving. Then I met Jonathan.
Jonathan was a young boy who was very ill and needed help. Upon meeting him I discovered that he loved the Batman, too! I visited him in the hospital regularly and read to him tales of the Batman, and we would talk of his selflessness. One day Jonathan said: “Wouldn’t it be great if we had a Batmobile and we could give kids rides?”
Well, that is all it took! I raised funds and found an old 1972 Opel GT (known of as a poor man’s Vet) and found someone who could convert it into what Jonathan and I called the Batmobile. Jonathan and I would drive down each week to watch the progress. I had Jonathan do mental exercises to turn his cells into the Batman and fight off the genetic illness he suffered from. It worked! Along with the ongoing tales of Batman and watching the manifestation of the Batmobile coming alive, he found that it all was reinforcing his health. I was delighted and so were his parents.
The Batmobile conversion took six months and during that time, Jonathan began to thrive with the hope and courage of the Batman himself. I was elated and found myself captivated by the strength this young boy drew from the mystical character called Batman. All he wanted to do was be the noble Batman.
One day during a doctor appointment wit his parents, Jonathan overheard the doctor say that his condition would eventually return and that he would die. This sent him into a tail spin…he began relapsing and his condition worsened.
With tears in his eyes, he said: “Greg, Batman helped me. Please make a real Batmobile to help kids…like the one in the movie.” He then passed on. I vowed to do it, though I had NO money to make it happen.
I took 8 years, but I eventually raised enough donations to keep my promise to Jonathan and in 1998 the Batmobile came to the Monterey Peninsula. I dedicated it to all children who just needed to know that they had a friend in Batman. It was used to support Make-A-Wish and Dare programs as well as numerous other charitable events throughout the year. The Batmobile was a unifying element in our community, providing a point of interest for young and old to gather around and share their fond memories…while also making new ones!
Due to the high level of customization required to build this Batmobile, it was very difficulty to drive and became very costly to store and maintain. After 10 years of service to the community, though it was heart-breaking to do so, I could not bare the cost and was forced to sell the Batmobile…though the vow to continue to bring the joy of Batman to children remained vibrant in my Heart.
The Batmobile has long been missed in our community as evidenced by numerous encounters with people who recognize me and stop to ask if the Batman will return. And now…I can finally say: “YES!!” I have begun the construction process for a new Batmobile that will be much more street-ready, making it much easier to drive and to maintain.
The Batmo program is offered by Aspire, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization under the corporate umbrella of Unity Church of Escondido, est. 1965.
All donations to Batmo are tax deductible under Section 501(c)(3) of the US federal tax code. You will be sent a letter of receipt for tax purposes.
This storage space that will also be used to host special events for children in need who are ill, dying or need some hope for their lives.
For events where children in need have the chance to be cared for and celebrated for the goodness that lives within them.
Toys and other keepsakes that the kids can take home and hold close to their hearts to remember Batman cares and is here to help.