"Sometimes real superheroes live in the hearts of small children who are fighting big battles." At Capes and Crowns, we feel so honored to meet these real life heroes every day. We get to know them, and they become a part of our family. Two kids in particular that are a part of our CCF family have been in need of some smiles lately.
Mac, who is 12 years old and has been battling cancer (Ewings Sarcoma) since February 14th of this year. He had his tibia removed just three weeks ago and has been struggling with not only the typical pre-teen life, but also fighting this horrible disease on top of it.
Cassie, who is 14 and has Spina Bfida, recently had surgery that required her to be completely flat in a bed in the hospital for 6 weeks. She is now home, but is required to remain flat for another 4 weeks. She had over 40 kidney stones removed, and also bone spurs in her hip.
To say that we are honored to know these brave, heroic young warriors is an understatement.
We always try to go that extra mile for our families, so when we got word that timing would work out so that we could have Mac and Cassie as our ambassadors at ACE Comic Con in Seattle, we immediately reached out to have their parents clear things with their doctors.
On Friday, Cassie laid completely flat in the back seat of her mother's Toyota Prius during the four hour drive up to Seattle. Unable to sit up for any more than 90 minutes at a time, they spent the drive as well as their time in line with Cassie completely flat to ensure that she could sit up as long as possible to enjoy the Con.
We also received word from Laura (Mac's Mom) on Friday that Mac's levels were quite low and he was receiving a blood transfusion to help his levels. So long as he didn't get a fever, they were still in the clear to come to the Con.
At 4pm, the Con doors opened; we were ready! Huge projector screens lined the entire venue that were set up to play the panels so everyone could enjoy them throughout the weekend, no matter where they were. The layout was fantastic, flowed very well, and we were located in a little section called Charity Alley. ACE even named us one of their featured charity partners, what an honor!
If you've never been to a Con, you're missing out. The people are just amazing. Imagine meeting thousands of friends that you never knew you had. Thousands of friends dressed up in amazing costumes, who are just there to be themselves and show their love and support for the Comic world. It's a phenomenon and experience that I cannot begin to describe.
When Cassie got to our booth, she was all smiles! She was ready to meet the one and only Tom Hiddleston and show off her costume, and rightfully so. Her mom handmade the ENTIRE thing!
As the evening went on, loads of people stopped by our booth. It was great to see peoples eyes light up (or tear up....one or the other happens) as we told them the stories about all of our amazing kiddos.
I know I speak for our entire team when I say that telling the stories behind the photos is our favorite part of this job. People see the finished images, but they don't always see the heart that goes into it, or what we had to do to get that photo. Also, being able to share what photos meant to the family, it's all incredible.
As we were looking around and waiting for more visitors at the booth, we noticed an ecstatic young lady in a wheelchair and Loki costume whose smile could not be wiped off of her face. Meeting Tom Hiddleston was certainly a new highlight in her life!
As day 1 of ACE came to a close, we received a text from Mac's Mom. His transfusion was over and no fever, so they were leaving Portland and were on their way to Seattle!
Saturdays are always the busiest day of the weekend for Cons, and this one we knew would be a whole new caliber because of the big names that were scheduled to appear; we were absolutely right. Mac and his parents pulled up about an hour after the Con doors opened, and we immediately knew this was going to be just what the doctor ordered for him.
As we walked around with the Childers family, you couldn't help but notice Mac's eyes wide with amazement. This was only their second Con (Dad's first) and what an experience.
If I were to write down every single amazing thing that happened at ACE for Mac, this would be a 10 page blog...and I don't think you all want that. So I'll do my best to sum it up.
Saturday afternoon we had a photo op with Tom Hiddleston. Since Mac is completely wheelchair bound, he really wanted to stand for all of the photo ops that we had lined up. When we got into the tent with Tom standing right in front of us, we immediately mentioned that he wanted to stand up for the picture. Photo ops are generally about 15-30 seconds, and we knew this was going to take a bit longer. But as soon as we said he wanted to stand, Tom immediately rushed over and asked "How can I help?". He helped lift Mac out of his chair and once the photo was done, he helped him sit back down.
Upon picking up the print from the Tom photo op, a kind lady came up to Mac and asked if he wanted to meet Grant Gustin (the Flash from the CW show). Excitedly Mac agreed, so off we went to yet another photo op! As we were standing line, someone came up to us and ask if Mac wanted to meet the entire Avengers cast that was at ACE (6 of them). With no words, she handed us a ticket for a Sunday group photo op. Mac stared in disbelief, as did we.
Our photo op with Grant was much the same as with Tom, amazing. Grant (who we had met once before) was so sweet and helped Mac get to his feet. Both Grant and Tom both took their time with Mac and didn't make him feel rushed at all. The ACE and celeb photo ops crew was equally wonderful at making sure Mac had a phenomenal experience.
As we walked around the Con floor more, vendors were handing Mac gifts left and right. From art prints, to a legitimate light saber, every single vendor and staff member made sure that Mac was having the time of his life.
As we were walking around showing Mac everything that the Con had to offer, a few of our awesome team members manned the booth, and they did a phenomenal job! We even had Moana helping tell people all about Capes and Crowns.
As Saturday wound down and came to a close, our hearts were so full. The generosity and kindness of everyone that we met was just outstanding. So, so many happy tears were shed. We were beyond exhausted, but excited to see what was to come on Sunday.
There were some pretty big con experience shoes to fill on Sunday, but with all we had lined up; we knew it was going to be another great day. Sundays are always slow to start, so once Mac and his parents got to the con we immediately went over to line up for his Tom Holland photo op. While in line, one of the Celeb Photo Ops employees, Patrick, came up and started talking about the game that Mac was playing on his phone. I cannot remember the name of it, but it's Mortal Combat meets Marvel, and seemed pretty epic. He spent about 15 minutes just talking with Mac, which made all of our hearts so happy.
As we walked past the black curtain of the photo op area, there stood Spiderman himself. Much like Grant and Tom Hiddleston, Tom Holland immediately sprung to action to see how he could help. He was so genuine and kind, yet another awesome Avenger meet and greet in the books!
Immediately after leaving the Tom photo op, we went to line up for the Avengers Cast photo. Mac didn't quite know what to think, to be meeting (almost) the entire cast is something that most people only dream of! And because of the kindness of a stranger, Mac was going to be able to experience it. When we walked into the room Tom Holland immediately greeted him saying "Hi Mac!" and Tom Hiddleston said "Hey Mac! Did you want to stand? You stood yesterday". Watching his face realizing that they recognized him, and remembered his name, made us all fight back tears. They helped him get seated front and center. As we began to help him get back into his chair, I looked over to see Paul Bettany giving Laura a hug. Speaking of moments that brought tears to my eyes at ACE, that was another one.
As we had a break in amazing celebrity moments, we headed back to our booth for a bit. Our team that held down the fort all weekend was nothing short of phenomenal. We are so grateful to them for allowing us to walk around with the Childers and watch and experience as Mac had the time of his life.
But wait! There's more! Yes, it can get better.
Mac's Sebastian Stan photo op was quickly approaching, and as we waited in line you could see the anticipation on his face. Upon walking in, Sebastian quietly asked what he could do to help. When we said Mac wanted to stand, Sebastian not only picked him up , but he actually lifted him up and gave him a big bear hug from behind to hold him up. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, this one definitely is.
After the picture was over, there was a moment that none of us will ever forget. We'd been fighting to get Mac to eat and drink all weekend, the chemo makes him feel pretty awful. So Sebastian gently reminded him that he needed to eat and drink so that he can get better. Those words meant so much to Mac's parents, so Sebastian if you ever read this, thank you...from the bottom of our hearts.
It was hard to believe that the Con was coming to a close. All weekend we watched as booth visitors were incredibly moved by the work that we do. We met some of the most wonderful people. Those who wanted to help, and even some who will be receiving our services in just a few weeks during our Seattle stop of the National Tour.
At 4pm, Tom Hiddleston's panel began. Since the crowd was pretty much all over in the seats, Mac's dad and I went to sit in the last few spots that were available. Tom's panel was everything that we expected it to be. As the crowd let out and people began to exit the event, we watched as Mac and Laura headed over to our booth with huge smiles on their faces. After his panel, Tom had walked off stage and said "hi" to Mac, and then presented him with an autographed comic! Luckily, one of the ACE staff members caught it all on video for us.
ACE Comic Con was certainly an event to remember. The people, from the staff members, to the attendees, to the vendors and of course the celebrities all helped make our weekend phenomenal. Even more important to us, we watched Cassie and Mac have the time of their lives.
Thank you to ACE for an amazing weekend, we can't wait for the next one!
Learn more about ACE Comic Con here