Since publishing Becoming Batman in 2008 I have received lots of messages from readers. Many of these messages relate how my writing has inspired them and which in turn inspires me. But the voicemail I had at my University of Victoria office in August of 2017 was a little bit different.
It was a little bit different because it was from a teenage boy (we'll call him "LD") who said he read Becoming Batman and said he really liked it. That wasn't the part that was different, though. What came next in the message was. This boy then told me that when he was 9 he was attacked and severely injured by bullies, was inspired by Batman, and had written his own book to help other kids.
LD wondered if I could offer any advice on how to get his message out to others in order to share his story and help more people. So, I called him up and talked to him.
The attacks and bullying took place in Jonesboro, GA. The last happened in November of 2011 and left LD with a fractured hip needing orthopedic surgery. The attack kept him in a wheelchair for about a year, left him with chronic pain, prevented him from playing contact sports (he loves football and wrestling), fighting with depression, and being home-schooled. Eventually, LD will have to have that hip replaced. Dealing with this would be pretty hard for anyone, let alone a 9 year old.
But LD refused to let depression and his injuries get the best of him. He chose to be a victor and a survivor, not a victim. Part of that victory had to do with his desire to help others. So, he went to his mother and asked for her help in putting a book together about his story and experiences. He wants to see a book like his in the Counselor’s office at every elementary school. To be great tool to help children overcome and stand up against bullying. He started a Go Fund Me Page for that purpose. He also started a social networking website for home schooled children.
LD’s mother recalls watching a librarian read his story “Be a Lion at Heart” to a child who was the same age as LD when he was bullied. Her thoughts were that a book like that could have been read to LD and maybe made him aware of what a bully does. Then, perhaps, the whole situation could have been avoided.
I followed up by asking LD some specific questions.
EPZ: What or who inspired you to take action in your life?
LD: The person who inspired me to write a children's book about bullying was this girl that I saw on television. One day she died. Sadly, it was because of kids at her school bullied her mentally.
EPZ: When and why did you come up with the idea of writing a book and starting a website?
LD: The reason is because I know there are children and adults who have problems with bullying on a daily basis.
EPZ: What would you like to do in the future (school, activities, career)?
LD: What I would like to be one day is an entrepreneur and businessman.
EPZ: You have taken something that was very difficult and turned it into something that can maybe help others. What have you learned about yourself?
LD: Be a lion at heart shows me that anybody can do anything as long as they put their mind towards it.
EPZ: Who is your favorite superhero and why?
LD: Batman, because he's an inspiration to Gotham and he doesn't have supernatural powers. I hope one day I can make people happy and be like Bruce Wayne helping others.
EPZ: What suggestions or advice can you offer to other kids?
LD: My advice to kids is if you want to be a real-life superhero, I think you should do it the safest way possible and get help! Thank you, Paul, for letting me share my story.
Stories like LD’s inspire me. He learned that he is not a quitter and that everything that he is going through prepares him for a bigger purpose in the future. What I’ve learned from all of my experiences is that inspiration is contagious. Whether it’s from being a lion at heart or Batman here and now, we need to spread the effects of inspiration far and wide.
© E. Paul Zehr (2017)