Fort Worth police officer Damon Cole wears a different kind of uniform on his days off. Instead of kicking back and relaxing when he’s not patrolling the streets, Cole dons a superhero costume and spends time with children suffering from cancer and other severe illnesses all over the country.
With his non-profit charity, Heroes and Cops Against Childhood Cancer, Cole uses his many superhero alter egos to make kids forget that they are sick, and give them the motivation to keep fighting. Batman, Superman, Iron Man and the Incredible Hulk are just a few heroes in Cole’s repertoire.
It all started for Damon fourteen years ago while working for the Dallas Police Department, when he began incorporating costume elements into his uniform to help break down barriers between police and kids. He had a Superman logo sewn onto the bulletproof vest under his uniform. Whenever he was dealing with a child, he would tell them that he had a secret and made them promise not to tell anyone. He would then open his shirt to reveal the superman logo. “From that moment on that child will always remember me, and that can make it easier to help them in the long run, because they trust me,” says Damon.
Then, in 2015, Cole heard of a 7-year-old boy named Bryce Schottel who was living with cancer. Bryce was a huge Superman fan, and Cole decided he had to meet him. He put on a full Superman costume and drove eleven hours to Bryce’s home in Illinois, where they hung out, played video games and even went to Bryce’s school. A day spent hanging out with Superman had Bryce smiling from ear to ear.
“Once I saw the positive impact I was having on the children I go see, that’s when I knew I had found my calling in life,” Cole told A Plus.
In the two years since his time with Bryce, Cole has travelled to more than 20 states and countless families. With every visit, he gifts an arm band saying “Heroes and Cops Against Childhood Cancer” to the child. He tells them that it has super powers in it that will help them beat cancer or other illness they are dealing with, but only if the promise to never give up. The kids often ask him to show them his super powers, but Cole explains that he can only use them to fight crimes.
Cole cherishes the special bonds he shares with the kids, staying committed to each of them and in contact with the families after he visits. He often goes to see them multiple times each over the course of their illness.
Earlier this year Cole started a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds to repair his custom made Superman Dodge Charger, the vehicle he uses to travel cross-country in character. However, during the fundraiser he heard of 10-year-old Bella, who was terminally ill and only had 3 weeks to live. While organizing a Batman visit with Cole, her mother said that they had wanted to take one last holiday with Bella, but as they had already received a Make-A-Wish trip, they couldn’t afford another one.
Cole decided to use the money raised through GoFundMe (approximately $6,500) to rent Bella’s family an RV to drive to Los Angeles. Cole is covering all of the holiday expenses, including a trip to Disneyland. When they return, Cole will visit Bella as Batman and help them with the next fundraiser, saying he will worry about his car later.
Cole’s dream is to travel to all 50 states and also to Canada to visit anyone of any age that wants to see him. His mission statement is: “I want to inspire people. I want someone to look at me and say, because of you I didn’t give up.”
Officer Cole depends on the donations from the good-hearted to keep his mission alive. If you feel inspired, please check out his website for ways to contribute. You can also check out his Facebook page to find out more about his mission.