Photo by Foodbyfax/Creative Commons

Dad in a Cape

“I define myself as many things: I’m a husband. I’m a father. I’m a brother. I’m a son. I’m the branch leader of Heroes Alliance Ohio. I’m a costumer. I’m a superhero fan.”

That’s Aaron Einhorn—or perhaps I should say Captain America (as shown on the cover), or when it’s too hot, Superman. He’s a 38-year-old caped crusader—a Good Samaritan turned superhero who fights to save the world in his free time by running the Ohio Chapter of the Heroes Alliance.

“We are a group of volunteers; most of us were costumers before we got involved with the Alliance,” Einhorn said. “We have our own theatrical quality costumes, and we try to give back to the community by appearing for charitable fundraising events, visits to hospitals, libraries, and schools—especially events that have a focus on kids struggling with illness.”

Einhorn discovered the Heroes Alliance five years ago while conducting research about the hyper-sexualization of female superhero costumes for a post on his blog. From there, he stumbled across a couple of superhero costumer forums, which—as a lifelong Marvel nerd—sucked him down the rabbit hole of crusading for a cause.

He was out of shape at the time and planned to use the tutorials from the forums to get toned and make himself a Superman costume for Comic-Con in San Diego. The costume was motivation for him to work out, and the better body was motivation for him to make the costume.

“So I get to Comic-Con. I have my Superman costume on, and I am terribly nervous. But I walk out of my hotel, and there was breeze that catches just as I walk out, and my cape flairs out. And there’s this little girl across the street with her dad at a park, and she goes, ‘Daddy, Daddy, look! It’s S-s-super…’ and she couldn’t even finish what she was saying because she was so excited. And that just immediately hit me in the gut, and I was like, ‘OK, I want more of that.’”

Einhorn got in contact with the Heroes Alliance, which was only five years old at the time and active primarily in Florida and Georgia. He applied to set up an Ohio branch, which has now grown so large that it has spread into two sub-branches. Eventually Einhorn was invited to take a seat on the National Council, which helps establish new branches and enforces rules and background checks on new members.

“At this point, we have 14 branches spread out of 11 states and a sister group in the U.K. I used to have to spend my time finding events for our team to appear at, and now it is to the point where organizations have started seeking us out.”

The Heroes Alliance operates simply: the team members use their colorful costumes and iconic alter egos to draw crowds to fundraising events, and they let each nonprofit organization handle all of the money raised.

Sometime their appearances are about more than money, though.

“Back in January, there was a young man with terminal brain cancer, and they were doing a final celebration of his life, knowing that he didn’t have much time left, and our team went out for that,” Einhorn said. “One of our members actually gave him a Captain America shield that was made by one of our heroes.”

The sheer joy of eliciting smiles from children keeps the Alliance going strong.

“We are all volunteers and we don’t get paid, but the expressions you can see on the face of a child, especially one that is dealing with a chronic condition or terminal illness, is my favorite part of the Heroes Alliance,” Einhorn said. “When you get to suddenly let a kid meet Captain America, and see that look on his or her face—it’s the most amazing thing in the world.”

The Ohio Chapter of the Heroes Alliance has participated in hundreds of charitable events over the years. You may have also seen them at ComFest selling donated comics, toys, and games, with proceeds benefitting the Make a Wish Foundation.

For Einhorn, whose parents owned a comic shop called Monkey’s Retreat, superheroes are a vital and undeniable part of our culture—a standard for morality, justice, and goodwill.

“They’re our modern myths, our morality plays, our daytime soap operas, and our love of professional wrestling all rolled up in one. The fantasy of the superhero is the fantasy of having the power to fix the million things we see in our daily lives that make us say, ‘That’s unfair.’ They address the problems that make us feel helpless, and they give us a code of behavior to aspire to.”

See our local heroes in action July 19 at the Mario Knapp Memorial
Car Show and July 25 at the Walk for Wishes. For more, visit
heroesalliance.org/ohio.

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Danny Hamen

Insatiable bibliophile. Intrepid journalist. Born to run. Here for the cake.

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