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Grime fighters

Superheroes brighten windows and kids' spirits

LEBANON — Superman and Captain America made an appearance five stories high outside of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center's pediatric unit Thursday morning.

Superman, also known as mild-mannered Ben Stebbins, and Captain America, aka Ryan Welch, are actually employees of Aslan's Maintenance, which has been washing the windows at the hospital for many years.

It's an intensive job that starts in the spring and carries over into the fall, said Aslan's Maintenance general manger Amy Stebbins.

The window washers are unassuming, quiet, mild-manner men who usually try to go unnoticed.

However, when a pediatric patient at Children's Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock was recently frightened by a window washer, hospital staff asked Stebbins and Welch if they would take on superhero alter egos while cleaning the windows outside the pediatric units.

"We're very fortunate CHaD provided the costumes. And as long as they provide the costumes we're happy to wear them," Amy Stebbins said. "We're going to wash the window regardless, so it's nice to be able to have a little bit of fun with the kids and make it a little bit more fun for them than having someone unexpectedly hanging outside their window."

Jessica Laperle, manager of ChaD's Child Life Program, said she had heard of other children's hospitals doing the same thing and thought it would relieve some fears for children while in the hospital.

"It's pretty scary here and you know if you are having some medicine, things seem a little foggy for you, and then you look and someone's hanging from outside your window," Laperle said. "It gets to be a scary thing. This allows it to be more magical and super-power focused instead of being scary and one more unknown person. When kids are in the hospital they see so many people, so many faces are introduced and the average kid is pretty shy."

The appearance of the heroic window washers is also timely as CHaD gears up for its largest fundraiser of the year, the eighth annual CHaD HERO Half Marathon and 5K, which will take place on Sunday, Oct. 20, 2013.

More information on this event can be found at www.chadhero.org.

mpierce@newstote.com



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