Idaho Girl Becomes Superhero for a Day
BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Most days, 6-year-old Aubrey Matthews spends her energy fighting a brain tumor growing behind her eyes. But the first-grader managed to foil crimes and chase an arch-nemesis through Boise on Friday, serving the city as the superhero ``Star'' with assistance from the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Idaho, The Idaho Statesman reported.
When she donned her blue and metallic superhero costume, Star took on the super-powers of X-ray vision, superhuman strength, speed and blowing power - and a mission: To capture the villain who had stolen a golden star from the Idaho Historical Museum.
After Star was alerted by authorities, she hopped on a Life Flight helicopter to reach the crime scene, where she found a clue linking the crime to a kjnown evildoer.
The chase was on, with plenty of opportunities for Star to use her superpowers along the way.
Before catching the bad guy, she rescued people from a ``smoke''-filled building, saved a citizen from drowning in ParkCenter Pond, and vindicated ferrets at Zoo Boise who had been framed for stealing the golden star.
It was a busy day for Aubrey, a little girl with an incredible imagination whose biggest foe is the inoperable optic glioma tumor growing in the center of her brain. The tumor was diagnosed when Aubrey was 6 months old.
``I try to enjoy every day with her,'' said her mother, Elisa Matthews. ``Life is just precious, and you can't blow it away. You have to take it for what it is, no matter what it is.''
The tumor is inoperable because of its location and the way it grew into her optic nerve and against her hypothalamus, said her father, Dave Matthews.
Aubrey began chemotherapy when she was 15 months old. The tumor was stabilized for three and a half years but started to grow again last summer. A second round of chemotherapy began in August and was completed in January, her father said.
So far the news is good - the tumor has shrunk some, and Aubrey isn't as ill as doctors expected her to be after the chemotherapy. She has not lost her hair and her white blood cell count is stable, representing a small victory over the toxic chemotherapy drugs.
Most kids making a wish through the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Idaho wish to go someplace, to meet someone or to have something special.
Aubrey's request - to ``be'' something - is the rarest kind of wish, said executive director Marcia Karakas. It's the first time in at least 10 years that a ``be'' wish has been received in the Idaho office, which serves the state's lower 35 counties.
Windermere Real Estate's 150 employees took part in scripted superhero scenes, and the caper was filmed by Area 02, a local production company, for a special premiere this fall.
``I'm overwhelmed with all the time that people have put into this,'' Dave Matthews said. ``The whole day is centered around her, and it's just awesome. This is truly a dream come true for her.''
Aubrey came up with other superhero characters to help her fight crime - Lion Lady, Frog Lady, Dog Man, House Lifter, Sky Girl, Martian Manhunter and Tree Girl - all played by volunteers. She also helped design the costumes.
``I think she's brought out the child in all of us,'' said Jessie Gillingham, volunteer coordinator for the foundation.
By noon on Friday, Star had rescued a hostage from the villain's grip and tied the miscreant to the replica Liberty Bell in front of the Statehouse, cheered by hundreds of fans.
``I'd like to thank you for your extreme bravery,'' Mayor David Bieter said when the bad guy was in custody. He swore Aubrey in as an honorary police officer and proclaimed June 15 as Make-A-Wish Day and Star Day.
``You have shown extraordinary crime-fighting skills,'' Boise Police Mike Masterson said before presenting her with an Aubrey-sized police uniform.
For the little girl whose strength helps her fight cancer, it was all in a day's work.