When senior finance major Brandon Robinson was younger, he — like many other kids his age — loved Batman.
His parents were divorced, and his father, Lenny Robinson, bought a Batmobile and costume modeled after the 1989 movie starring Michael Keaton as a way to bond with his son.
But Robinson’s father soon realized the impact the character had on kids and began visiting sick children in local hospitals in 2001, Robinson said. Starting then, he made weekly hospital visits and attended charity events. He came to be known as the Baltimore Batman, visiting children in hospitals every day, sometimes two or three times a day.
“You saw their eyes light up,” said Robinson, noting he tried to go along with his dad — sometimes as Robin — whenever he could. “Every single day they’re going in and out of chemotherapy, kids that are 10 years old, and when there’s Batman coming into the hospital. … It kind of just changed their world, and honestly made them kind of forget that they were in the hospital. … They could enjoy their childhood as everyone should.”
Lenny Robinson, who went viral in 2012 when police pulled him over in full costume for driving the Batmobile without a license plate, died in August when his Batmobile broke down on the side of a highway at night and was struck by another car. To honor his legacy, Brandon Robinson and his cousin Marissa Robinson organized a fundraiser Saturday in Ritchie Coliseum to support a program that continues Lenny Robinson’s work to help sick children.
About 200 students attended “Project Superkids,” a gala-style event that featured food, dancing and raffles. Delta Tau Delta and Alpha Epsilon Phi, Brandon Robinson’s fraternity and Marissa Robinson’s sorority, respectively, hosted the event. Half of the $3,000 raised will go toward the Lenny “Batman” Robinson/Hope for Henry Program at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore. The other half will go toward Sharsheret, a breast cancer foundation and one of Alpha Epsilon Phi’s national philanthropies.
Local restaurants, including Sardi’s and Mamma Lucia, donated food for the event, and raffle prizes included a Batman-themed basket, Orioles tickets and a signed Ray Lewis photo and jersey.
Hope for Henry is a Washington-based foundation that provides services to hospitals to entertain and support sick children to restore some normalcy to their lives, board member Todd Foreman said.
The foundation allows children to earn “bucks” for things such as receiving treatment or taking pills and turn them in for prizes such as iPads or concert tickets. The organization also holds birthday parties, superhero parties and other events in hospitals, and provides professional child-life specialists to help children and families with what they’re going through, Foreman said.
Lenny Robinson often attended events with Hope for Henry, and under his name the program will now expand to Sinai Hospital in Baltimore, which Robinson frequently visited, Foreman said.
Lenny Robinson was one of his closest friends for 40 years, Foreman said, noting he became involved with Hope for Henry after Robinson died because he wanted to help “perpetuate the good things Lenny was doing.” Saturday’s event was “spectacular,” he said.
Brandon and Marissa Robinson “talked to me about this six weeks ago, and I thought, ‘That’s terrific if you can put something together,'” Foreman said. “There are hundreds of people here having a great time who’ve made contributions and whose money I can assure you and promise you is going to go directly towards helping these kids.”
In addition to food and prizes, university students could have their caricatures drawn or take pictures with props and costumes. Some fraternity and sorority members were also raffled off as dates.
“We felt that it’s the least we could do … to give back for Marissa,” said Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity president and sophomore finance major Noah Schiff, who was raffled off along with other members of his fraternity. “I think it’s an amazing event what they’ve done today.”
Haley Johnson, a sophomore criminology and criminal justice and government and politics major, said the event had a good turnout and that “everything is really well done and well organized and everyone seems to be having fun.”
Marissa Robinson, a sophomore family science major, wanted the event to be a celebration of her uncle’s legacy, she said. He treated every child he met like a celebrity, and always told kids he had one job for them: to get better, she added.
“I never really understood what he was doing until I went with him to the hospital and I saw … the impact he was making on these kids,” she said. “[He was] really treating these kids like they’re kids again. … He [was] making them strong, he [was] making them hopeful, he [was] making them happy.”
Scott Robinson, Lenny Robinson’s younger brother and Marissa Robinson’s father, said he was proud to see what his daughter had organized and how many people came to support the cause.
“I know that my brother would be very, very honored with the showing and the event that’s happening here,” he said. “Unfortunately he’s not here with us anymore, but we are going to try to keep his legacy going and this is just one step.”