The Flash may be the fastest man alive, but has he ever used his super-speed to run races for charity? (I suppose this is when one of you Flash-fanatics comments about some obscure back issue where he ran for the cure of some disease or something.) However, that is exactly what two comic fans have decided to do for The Hero Initiative, a charity that provides medical and financial aid to comic creators in need.Dan Bertwell getting
his race on“I just felt like The Hero Initiative was a good charity to kind of say ‘thank you’ to the people who have provided me with a lot of entertainment,” says Dan Bertwell, a 32-year-old New Englander.
Dan first heard of The Hero Initiative when artist Dave Cockrum passed away in 2006. His family had asked that in lieu of flowers, donations to The Hero Initiative be made in Dave’s honor.
A big Dave Cockrum and comic book fan, Dan was intrigued by the concept of The Hero Initiative. Dan did not realize how he could contribute to Hero in his own unique way until his father passed away in 2009. In 2010 Dan ran his first marathon to honor his father, an avid marathon runner.
“Running all those miles is a good way to kind of work out your own thoughts and was a good way for me to work out everything I was going through after he passed away,” Dan says.
Since then, Dan has signed-up for the ING Hartford and New Hampshire marathons in October, but he is not running these for his father. “I'm running this one for Gene Colan and Dave Cockrum and tons of other men and women who have been a huge part of my life even though I've never met them,” he says on his Razoo fundraising page.
Gene Colan was a comic book artist who was best known for his work with Marvel Comics on Tomb of Dracula and Daredevil in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. Colan passed away in June this year due to complications of liver disease and cancer. Before his passing, The Hero Initiative raised money to help pay for his medical bills.Gene Colan “He was an artist whose work I always really liked,” Dan says of Gene Colan being one his inspirations to run for The Hero Initiative. “But I know there’s tons of artists that are supported by The Hero Initiative and are helped by The Hero Initiative.”
Dan is not alone. Wendi Freeman, a drummer in Chicago and Comics Slumber Party podcast co-host, is also running for Hero. Wendi has already made her impact with The Hero Initiative. She has volunteered for them at comics conventions in San Diego and Chicago, and raised money for them by selling old back issues with her friends.
“I’ve gotten to see firsthand to how much good work they do,” Wendi says of her volunteer time. “They’re a really good influence seeing what they’ve done for people like Gene Colan and Jon Ostrander.”
And now Wendi is joining Dan running for Hero. Wendi started running 5ks last year after realizing she was “on a treadmill doing 5ks like every other day.” She has signed-up for Chicago’s Elvis is Alive 5k on Aug. 11 and the Pumpkins in the Park 5k in October.Wendi Freeman & Steve Wendi too has started a Razoo fundraising page called “Super Soldier Sprint.” Donators will be granted Bucky, S.H.I.E.L.D., Agent 13, Winter Solider, or Avenger status based on how much they give.
Both Dan and Wendi have started raising money and both hope to go beyond their respective goals of $1,000 and $2,000, and raise even more money for The Hero Initiative, but they still need a lot of help.
“Any and all donations are appreciated,” Dan says. He wants to make sure that all potential donors know that any money he raises goes directly to The Hero Initiative. “I’m definitely losing money on this proposition,” he says in regards to the race entry fees. “My fundraising goal is to get as much as I can.”
Wendi also has a similar philosophy when it comes to her fundraising goals, “I’m not going to pooh-pooh anybody’s money. We can certainly go over that goal.”
More than anything, it seems that Dan and Wendi are trying to raise awareness of Hero’s goals to other comic book fans. “I just think that it’s so important to give back to the community that created so much for people,” says Wendi.
Dan says, “I’d just like to encourage people to, you know, to find something, find a cause that they care about and kind of help out in any way that they can. And if you want to go for a run and try to raise money that way, go for a run. You know, you only get one go through this life as far as I know and it’s nice to help other people out while you’re doing it.”
The Hero Initiative is always looking for local heroes to take up their cause. Next time you are in a comic book shop, think about Dan and Wendi, and Gene Colan and Dave Cockrum. Ask your local comic book shop to set-up a collection jar or instead of throwing away your old comics, why not sell them and give the money to Hero. It’s for a good cause and my guess is that if you’re reading this article you too believe, as Hero does, that “everyone deserves a Golden Age.”