There’s nothing in this world sadder than a child who is suffering because of an illness, especially when you’re the parent of that child. It’s a literal nightmare to watch your child wither away in front of your eyes and there’s nothing you can do about it, except to try to bring them as much happiness as you can. This man understands that sadness. He also understands the importance of bringing a smile to the face of a sick child. Keep reading to find out how this man is doing everything he can to make sick children feel better in their last moments on this Earth.
2014 was an extremely rough year for Ricky Mena to say the least.
He had lost everything in his life, coping with anxiety and PTSD, and was sleeping on his friend’s couch. He spent months trying to find work, but unfortunately, nothing ever seemed to work out for him.
Finally, after a few months of searching, he found a job.
He started working full-time as a personal trainer. Ricky honestly loved the work, but there was still something missing in his life.
One night Ricky had a dream that changed his life forever.
In his dream, he was visited by his grandmother who had recently passed away. “She put her arm around me and told me she has something to show me. She proceeded to walk me towards an old school looking reel to reel movie projector and turned it on. A huge movie of Spider-Man walking towards a children’s hospital shot in the sky. He walked through these double doors and on the other side was thousands of kids lying in bed, hooked to hospital tubes, IV poles, and more. He began swinging around bringing them joy through jokes, toys, and taking pictures. The kids’ faces lit up when he got to them! In confusion, I looked at my grandma and asked her what all of this had to do with me. She looked at me very seriously and said, ‘That IS you and when you wake up, that’s what you’ll do.’” recalls Ricky.
Ricky immediately searched online to look for a realistic Spider-Man costume.
He spent $1,400 to buy the Spider-Man costume, which was a lot of money for him to spend on a costume. His friend even allowed him to continue to stay on his couch to see what Ricky was going to do for the children.
It was October of last year and Ricky was ready to put on that suit and start his mission.
A client he worked with knew about Ricky’s dream and asked if he would visit her sick godson in the hospital. Unfortunately, the hospital staff wouldn’t let him in, but that didn’t stop him. He entered the hospital in his regular clothes and changed into Spider-Man in the bathroom.
He continued to visit sick children in the hospital and eventually he was given permission by four hospitals to continue to visit.
It wasn’t long before Ricky started his own non-profit called Heart for a Hero. After awhile, Ricky began to visit children with terminal illnesses.
Ricky knew that the many of the children he was visiting wouldn’t be alive for much longer, and it took a huge toll on him.
Ricky began visiting a child by the name of Charlie DeGrange. Charlie and Ricky became very close. Sadly, Ricky slowly watched the tumor claim Charlie’s life.
Regardless of the emotional toll that visiting sick children was putting on Ricky, he refused to give up.
“Holding children as they take their last breaths. You’ll never feel more vulnerable than you do in that moment. Every other difficulty in life, I’ve been able to shake and move forward. But this? It’s something I’ll never shake, and I’ve come to terms with it. My life is theirs and the journey goes on,” explained Ricky.
Ricky knows how important his mission is to the children that he visits.
“Visiting children is my passion and I’ve been tested beyond measure in doing so. Nonprofits are up and down financially as we are in such a low that I sold my car yesterday to come up with money to survive as well as continue being Spider-Man,” said Ricky.
It’s because of heroes like Ricky that terminally ill children can spend their last days smiling.
“I won’t give up and am relentless in my need to share the stories of these children,” explained Ricky. The world needs more people like you, Ricky. Thanks for doing what you do!