Star-Lord is making an inaugural appearance at Fun Spot in Belleville on Thursday as part of a Heroes Cops and Kids event.
Star-Lord will be joined by Captain America and Spider-Man. The three heroes, law enforcement officers Andrew Leach, Kurt Schmulbach and Tyler Whitney, make up the local chapter of Heroes Cops and Kids.
“About two years ago, a friend of my son found out he had cancer,” founder Schmulbach said.
The boy was fascinated by police, and Schmulbach, a patrolman with the Lebanon Police Department, sent the boy pictures of police for support. An officer in Dallas, Texas, heard about the boy and asked if he could drive up, dressed as Superman. That led to Schmulbach starting a similar chapter, adding Whitney, who is a Belleville firefighter and a police officer in Smithton and Trenton, and Leach, who is with the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department.
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The mission of Heroes Cops and Kids is to foster better relations between police and children. While the cops-dressed-as-heroes often visit hospitals, they also have events such as the one at Fun Spot.
“Winter is usually a little slower with more hospital visits; summertime we do more camps. We’re going to a foster kids camp in June,” Schmulbach said.
The group is modeled after an organization of the same name in Dallas, Texas, with the caveat that “Metro St. Louis” is added to the name. The local group is seeking nonprofit status; Schmulbach expects that in about a month.
All events and appearances are free for the public; the officers take donations to help pay for their costumes.
“We don’t buy suits off the shelf,” Schmulbach said.
Leach, Star-Lord, is the group’s newest member. He sought donations from local businesses to help pay for the costume.
When deciding upon his hero alter-ego, Leach knew the group already had a Spiderman and Captain America.
“I thought he was a neat character, thought the movie was great, I like the mask… and the kids like it too. Older people are kind of ‘um,’ but all the kids know him.”
Thursday’s Fun Spot event will be the first time Leach gets to appear as Star-Lord in front of kids. The trio was set to appear at the Trenton 5K Dare run, but it was rained out, Leach said.
“Our main focus is kids in general, just to get a better relationship with the police,” Schmulbach said. “Sometimes they realize we’re police — and sometimes we’re not.”
At a glance
This is what you need to know about Heroes, Cops and Kids:
- What: Meet a favorite Superhero and enjoy a bounce house. Heroes, Cops and Kids — St. Loius Metro was founded by a metro-east police officer. The group visits schools and hospitals.
- When: 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday
- Cost: Admission is free; regular skate rental is $2 and upgraded skate rental is $4
- More information: www.facebook.com/HeroescopsandkidsSTL