RELATED: Aug. 19, 2015 2:51 p.m.
WASHINGTON — Hundreds gathered at the Har Sinai Synagogue to say goodbye to a real life superhero in Owings Mills Wednesday.
Leonard Robinson, known as the “Route 29 Batman,” but to the sick children he visited in the hospital he was the caped crusader who made them smile.
Many parents and children who Lenny Robinson visited in the hospital as Batman are here to say goodbye. pic.twitter.com/0KMExdftmt— Chuck Carroll (@ChuckCarrollWLC) August 19, 2015
Robinson died in a crash on a western Maryland highway Sunday after his “Batmobile,” a black Lamborghini, had engine trouble, according to police. Robinson was checking the engine of the car which was parked partially in the fast lane of eastbound I-70 in Washington County near Big Pool when it was hit by a Toyota Camry being driven by a Virginia man around 10:30 p.m.
The driver of the Camry wasn’t injured and no charges have been filed.
Robinson, 51, gained national attention in 2012 when a Montgomery County police officer pulled him over while he was driving the Batmobile in costume. The encounter was caught on the officer’s dashcam.
Among those at Lenny Robinson's funeral is detective Paul Borja who famously pulled over his "batmobile" in 2012. pic.twitter.com/HIjodbVMlH— Chuck Carroll (@ChuckCarrollWLC) August 19, 2015
Detective Paul Borja was the officer who pulled Robinson over.
“The short amount of time I was with the man, he was an extremely genuine, sweet individual doing a great thing,” Borja says. “The man’s truly a hero, to me, for what he did.”
The Washington Post reported in 2012 that Robinson spent more than $25,000 of his own money on Batman-related items every year, including toys, t-shirts and books he gave away to kids.
“I am beyond devastated,” says Laurie Strongin, executive director of a non-profit that Robinson worked with. “He was a beloved friend and partner to Hope for Henry Foundation for many, many years.”
Strongin says Robinson “loved making kids happy” and never said no to a request.
“He just made everybody so happy and the kids that Hope for Henry treat have cancer and serious blood disease and they’re in the hospital for months, sometimes years. And when Lenny walked into a Hope for Henry superhero party, it’s like the walls of the hospital disappeared, it’s like all of a sudden you couldn’t hear the IV pumps beeping. It’s like, it transformed the whole hospital into a magical world of superheroes and nobody felt like they were sick anymore.”
Strongin says she remembers the day in 2012 that Robinson made national headlines for getting pulled over while in costume, because he was on the way to a Hope for Henry event at the time.
“I kept calling him like ‘Where are you, the kids are waiting for you?’ And he’s like, ‘You’re not going to believe this but I got pulled over by the police for having a bat signal on my license plate.'”
“And then all of a sudden, it was like everywhere on Facebook that a Lamborghini Batman was pulled over on the side of the road and it went viral.”
Borja says the traffic stop in 2012 was far from run-of-the-mill. He and other officers, once they found out what Robinson was on his way to do, shook his hand and took photos with him.
“The work that he was doing was out of his own pocket, you know, visiting the kids… That get-up, that costume he had came out of his own pocket. The prizes that he gave out to the kids, that came out of his pocket. The man has a genuine heart… We lost a great one.”
DC Entertainment, the Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. unit that owns Batman, said it was aware of Robinson’s work and had no objections. The company posted a message on the official Batman Facebook page: “Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Leonard Robinson, who shared his love of Batman with everyone around him.”
Sharen Sumpter-Deitz, a board member of the South Charleston, West Virginia, Convention and Visitors Bureau, said Robinson had left for home Sunday afternoon after meeting hundreds of children over the weekend at the city’s Summerfest, two daycare centers and a library. It was his third visit, she said.
“He always told the children how much he valued them and how good they were and that everything they did meant something,” she said. “He made them feel like they were the most important person in the whole wide world when he was talking to them.”
Contributions in Robinson’s memory can be made to:
Superheroes for Kids
c/o Marilyn Richardson (RIAO)
2401 W. Belvedere Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21215
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