Airman becomes children’s superhero

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Stephanie Serrano
  • Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Public Affairs

Huge smiles spread across children’s faces as a group of superheroes­­­­—including Captain America, Spider-Man and Wolverine— walked into the Nemours/Alfred I DuPont Hospital for Children in support of Camp WeBelong July 31, 2019 in Wilmington, Delaware. Amongst the group was U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Christopher Long, 87th Force Support Squadron base honor guard NCO in charge.

This selfless act began when Long’s cousin, who suffered from Cystic Fibrosis, sadly lost her battle in 2011.

“She spent a great deal of time in hospitals and was always ecstatic when she had visitors,” Long said. “So I made it my mission to give back to the children and make them smile.”

Upon his arrival to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, in 2016, Long reached out to local hospitals in hopes of making superhero visits to the children.

“Nemours responded and allowed me to visit,” Long said. “I have made six visits since then.”

Since 2014, Long has volunteered during 4th of July celebrations, children’s Halloween costume parties, Special Olympics events in Germany, numerous visits to Nemours Hospital and visiting with children at multiple walks with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation throughout the Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware regions.

“I may not be Chris Evans, but to these kids, I’m Captain America,” Long said. “I give them the best possible representation of that character.”

One of his fondest memories occurred when he was asked to visit a little boy who was nonverbal due to medical complications. Long spent roughly 40 hours studying basic American Sign Language so he could speak to the child.

“He had the happiest smile on his face when he saw Captain America speaking sign language to him,” Long said. “It made me a little teary-eyed, but worth every second.”

Long continues to volunteer his time and has recruited four military members to help spread cheer. Though, he is always happy to gain additional heroes to visit the children.

“It’s a pretty selfless tasking that he came up with because he could be doing anything else with his free time,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Dylan Bolander, 87th Air Base Wing Public Affairs superintendent. “For him to ask me to be part of this is something that I am humbled by because he thinks enough of me as a friend and Airman.”