In a heartbreaking bit of news, Leonard Robinson, 51, also known as Batman to man terminally ill children throughout the state, was tragically killed in an auto accident on Sunday evening in Western Maryland.
Robinson, who owned a cleaning business, had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in a “60’s style Batmobile’ (Really a Lamborghini), a realistic Batman costume and lots of trinkets to hand out too children, stopped to examine his car when his check engine light came on.
According to the Washington Post, “His car was stopped in the median but still “partially in the fast lane” when he got out to check the engine, according to state police. Around 10:30 p.m., a Toyota Camry slammed into the Batmobile, propelling the steel-framed hunk of black metal into his body. Robinson, 51, died at the scene. His funeral is scheduled for Wednesday in Owings Mill, Md.”
The Baltimore Sun told of Robinson’s heroism with children of the state:
Robinson, who has three sons, spent much of his time in the Batman character, spending his money traveling to cheer up sick children or promote charitable causes.
Leonard Robinson, as Batman, parks his batmobile at the North Carroll branch of the Carroll County Public Library Saturday, July 11.
Laurie Strongin, founder of the Hope for Henry Foundation, a Washington nonprofit dedicated to helping the area’s sickest children, said faces lit up when Robinson walked into a room.
“He would come into the hospital and transform the place,” she said. “When he was there, the kids would forget they were sick; they would forget they were in the hospital. He brought so much joy and happiness into their lives.”
Robinson drew national attention in 2012 when Montgomery County police posted dash-camera video online of officers pulling over his Batmobile.
The department mourned his death in a statement Monday. County police described the traffic stop as a “positive and humorous interaction between officers and Robinson.”
They said he was good-natured about verifying his registration and took pictures and shook hands with police officers.
“When we replay the traffic-stop video, we smile and laugh, fondly remembering the day that [Montgomery County police] met a real superhero,” the department said. “We hope that the Dark Knight’s bright light shines on.”
“He helped sick kids to heal,” Strongin said. “Literally, thousands and thousands of sick kids’ lives were better because of him.”
“Lenny was extremely generous to our staff, patients and families,” spokeswoman for Children’s National Health System Emily Hartman said in a statement. “We will miss him very much.”
“He really lived his life as if he was Batman,” said Larry Getlan, president of the fire company and a classmate of Robinson’s at Pikesville High School. “Every single person who knew him, knew him as Batman.”
Robinson’s brother, Scott said, “He was my brother, my business partner, my best friend,” Scott Robinson said. “He touched a lot of lives and made a lot of kids smile. That’s all he wanted to do.”
In 2012, Robinson pointed out, “Batman is the only superhero that doesn’t have superpowers,” he said. “He’s naturally a superhero. Kids can relate to me a lot better.”
In dealing with children who are facing death, Robinson recalled that among his most treasured memories was from parents who told him, “This is the first time my son or daughter has smiled in months.”
Elizabeth Gardner, who lives in Reisterstown, Md., and suffers from TAR syndrome, a rare genetic disorder, was only 6 when she first met Robinson. She is now 10, but recalls that she was frightened of costumes.
“It was such a huge, huge moment in that he was able to break down that barrier,” said her mother, Lisa. “He just had a beautiful spirit about him.”
Kids can be cruel and that was the case at Elizabeth’s school due to her physical issues. The kids didn’t believe that “Batman” was her friend. So, Robinson decided to help her out and went to her school, showing up in full costume and telling her classmates that bullying was wrong. He then called her on stage and presented her with a necklace.
After that, he and Elizabeth sat behind stage and he told her, “I wish I could be more like you.”
What a great encourager Mr. Robinson was. I’m sure there are many who mourn his death, especially among the children, but it only opens the door for someone to take his place as an encourager to those who suffer most.