April 5th, 2012
01:34 PM ET

Holy traffic stop! Violation highlights Beltway Batman’s good deeds

Baltimore (CNN) - Lenny Robinson is still getting acclimated to his 15 minutes of fame. When he pulled up to Baltimore's Sinai Hospital in a black Lamborghini decked out head to toe in a custom Batman outfit, he was greeted by a crush of reporters, news photographers and giddy hospital staff armed with smartphones snapping pictures.

Robinson became a viral video sensation last month when police pulled him over in full costume.  The dashboard camera in the Montgomery County, Maryland, police cruiser caught the entire scene, including the officer calling for back up. “You can send me Robin if you wish,” the officer snickered to dispatch before asking the driver, “What’s your name other than Batman?”

“Lenny,” Robinson replied from the driver’s seat in a cape and Batman headdress.

The police pulled over Robinson’s car because instead of a Maryland license plate, he had the Batman logo. He likes his outfit and car to look just right when he visits hospitals across Washington and Maryland to cheer up terminally ill children. Once police heard that and saw that the official license plate was inside the car, Robinson was on his way both to the hospital and Internet stardom. Last week a local paper unmasked the caped crusader with a front-page article detailing the charitable work done by the 48-year-old father of three.

Parked outside Sinai in a valet lot where expectant mothers come at delivery time, the Robinson Batmobile gleams. The black Lamborghini is customized with yellow trim and tricked out with the Batman logo nearly everywhere, including on the floor mats, the door jams and the monster rims. A collection of "Batman" themes blasts out from the stereo. Robinson grins from ear to pointy ear, fielding interviews and breaking away to pick up a sick child, say hello and cheer them up.

Upstairs, Hope for Henry is having its annual superhero celebration.

“We’re delighted to work with him and bring the magic of Batman to these kids,” says Laurie Strongin, executive director of Hope for Henry. Her group has brought pizza, cupcakes, superhero capes and games to help young cancer patients with their treatment by making them forget, for one afternoon, that they’re stuck in the hospital.

Strongin knows firsthand what the families here are going through. “My husband and I started Hope for Henry back in 2003 to honor the life of our son Henry, who had died when he was 7 years old after a bone marrow transplant,” she says.

Henry was a Batman fanatic. He never got to meet Robinson, but Strongin says Henry would have loved the day.

When Batman walks into the room, all the heads in the room turn. Sick children have a glimmer in their eye. Robinson flashes a smile and grumbles, “I’m Batman.”

And for the next two hours he is as close to the real thing as possible.

“I know the suit weighs almost 40 pounds and I lose approximately between 5 and 6 pounds of water weight each time I do it,” he says after autographing a boy’s forearm just above the tiny hospital bracelet.

“The car was a quarter-million dollars and the suit was 5 grand, and I give away approximately $25,000 worth of Batman sunglasses and T-shirts and hats (and) coloring books, and everything I give away I always sign. But it wasn’t about the money. It wasn’t about spending the money on the car or the suit. It was about coming to see the kids,” Robinson says.

While the party also features a man dressed as Spider-Man and a woman dressed as Wonder Woman, Batman is the star. He’s giving out books and toys, and if you’re under the age of 14, you’re starting wonder whether this actually may be the real Batman.

“Some of these kids recognize that this is not Batman, but in their head it is, and this is a great thing for them,” says Dr. Joseph M. Wiley, the hospital’s pediatrics chairman.

The party is medically important for the patients, Wiley says. “It is absolutely clear to those of us in the field that attitude and play therapy and distraction help children overcome illnesses, so this is a big deal for all the kids who are here today.”

Robinson says, “It’s rewarding in a whole different way, just making that child smile. And if I only just touch one kid out of all this, then I know I’ve done something really successful.”

Robinson volunteers much of his time these days as Batman at events such as this one. In 2007, he sold the industrial cleaning business that he began in high school. He told The Washington Post that his volunteering is part of his own maturation process, nodding to a few brushes with the law in his younger years thanks to, according to the Post, “fights and other confrontations.”

He says his cleaning business - which cleaned office buildings, churches and synagogues - was fulfilling, but being Batman and cheering up sick children is his calling.

“You see what’s going on. It has to be moving. Sometimes you’re crying on the inside but you’re strong on the outside. These are the real superheroes. It’s not me, it’s not you. They’re fighting for their lives every single day,” he says.

Robinson says he hopes to take his act on the road and around the world. Turns out that getting pulled over by police was one of the best things ever to happen to Batman.

Before we leave, he stops and looks right into CNN’s camera. He says he has been working on his closing line.

“Remember, at the end of the day, ask yourself, ‘Self, did I make a difference?’ And the answer had better be yes.”

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soundoff (232 Responses)
  1. drawing with pencil

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    April 9, 2012 at 8:23 am | Report abuse |
  2. Wonder Woman

    As the mother of a child lost to cancer at 8, this brought tears to my eyes. My daughter would have loved this too. How cool that someone takes the time to do this for these children. THEY are the true heroes. My daughter was the bravest person I've ever met.

    Thank you for sharing this.

    April 9, 2012 at 8:46 am | Report abuse |
  3. flashtrum

    A real life, true blooded American hero. This is the kind of person we should be putting on a pedestal. Not Kim and Chloe, not Linsday, not even the all too human pro athletes who most of the time have far worse issues than us regular Joes.

    April 9, 2012 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
  4. Tim

    I noticed that he does not bring Robin with him to the hospital. Smart move. Love what this guy is doin! When I see people like this im ashamed that I don't take time to do more to help people. Keep it up Batman. You inspire me!

    April 9, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  5. truefax

    Bruce Wayne has nothing on Lenny Robinson.

    April 9, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Renato Sousa

    That´s a true hero.Congrats batman..THE REAL BATMAN. ...this one doesn´t need a mask to show his true colours.!! He is just THE SELF....a super human being !!!!

    April 9, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Marylander

    I really admire him for caring enough to go to this length – he is a hero!
    Thank God he is white, otherwise batman would have died on that traffic stop.

    April 9, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Joe in El Paso

    Great job Lenny!!! You inspire me to be a better person... You are someone who we as Americans can truly look up to and admire, not all of these reality stars on TV nowadays. Thank you for your service, and keep them up- you not only help the children but those who hear about your good deeds as well.

    April 9, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  9. MiddleClass

    You sir are a true hero!

    April 9, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Skxawng

    We need more Batmans in the world!

    April 9, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  11. SD

    God bless Lenny and the people in the foundation. God Bless the children who are so happy visiting him. This story really inspires me. Thank you CNN for a good story like this.

    April 9, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Gregory T

    This was really a very touching story. You know with all of the evil things happening now, and people just being generally mean spirited, it really is a breath of fresh air to read about someone who is actually doing something to make a difference in the lives of our most precious natural resource: Our children. God bless and keep you!!!

    April 9, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  13. EJ

    It's so refreshing to hear good news for a change

    April 9, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  14. ready

    A rich person spending his time and money doing good. The 1% of the 1%. Need more like this

    April 9, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Bernard

    What a classy dude

    April 9, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
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