Mark Ashfield isn’t ashamed to admit he’s a massive dork.
“I’m big into superheroes. They got me through when I was growing up and I was in a children’s hospital on the east coast,” said Ashfield, a Fernwood resident.
He was born with fetal alcohol syndrome, which means a lot of time spent with massive migraines in the IWK Health Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
“I was in constant pain as a child. There was really no relief for it — they tried everything from medication to drugs, different kinds therapy,” he said.
“Superheroes were kind of my escape. Very early on my grandfather, my hero, starting bringing me superhero novels because he knew I liked comic books. He used to think you’ve got an amazing imagination. There are the words, paint the picture.”
Ashfield attributes his creativity and the beginning of Superheroes of Victoria to that.
Superheroes of Victoria is a local volunteer group that dresses up as superheroes to help raise money and awareness of charitable organizations such as the B.C. Children’s Hospital.
Their mandate is to provide volunteers for any charity that needs them. They’ve made appearances with the MS society, kids baseball clubs and Five Hole for Food, attending roughly four to five events a month.
“We also want to help run games, set things up, tear down, anything they need us to do, that’s what we’re there for,” said Ashfield, adding everyone has the superpower to help people. “So a kid gets to meet Batman, but they also see Batman helping out. We’re trying to teach kids about community and helping others.”
On Sunday, Sept. 13, Victoria residents have the opportunity to get their photo taken with more than 50 of their favourite superheroes as part of the sixth annual photo shoot fundraiser.
“You can be a superhero every single day and a lot of it is just acting with compassion and empathy,” said Elizabeth Hall, marketing director with Superheroes of Victoria. “The simplest thing like smiling at a stranger, doing something nice for someone, taking a donation down to the Mustard Seed — those are superhero things to do.”
The event, includes a selfie booth, cape maker, face painting and a number of prizes that participants can win such as gift certificates, bikes, and an electric scooter that will be designed to look like a superheroes cycle.
Last year, the group raised roughly $3,600 for B.C. Children’s Hospital and saw between 1,200 to 1,400 people. They’re hoping to double that this year.
The Superheroes of Victoria’s annual photo shoot takes place 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in Centennial Square.