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Holy Empathy! Batkid Lives Superhero Dream In San Francisco

Friday was a busy day in the crime-fighting world. As a superhero might say, you never know when a dastardly plot will emerge. And sometimes you're outnumbered. But not in Gotham, and not today — because an entire city seemed to stand with Batkid, aka a 5-year-old boy named Miles, whose wish to be a superhero has been granted.

It all started when Miles Scott, who has leukemia that's currently in remission, told the Make-A-Wish Foundation that the dream of his young life was to be a superhero for one day, helping those in danger and fighting villains. A remarkable response followed, with the police, city officials and members of the public pledging their help.

Miles and his family live in Tulelake, Calif., near the border with Oregon. He had been told that they were making a trip to San Francisco so that he could get a treat: his very own Batkid costume.

But today, in what had been carefully kept as a surprise for Miles, San Francisco played the part of Gotham City. Thousands of people turned out to watch the boy, in a Batkid costume, rescue hostages and foil an evil plot by The Riddler, among other exploits.

"This wish has meant closure for our family and an end to over three years of putting toxic drugs in our son's body" Miles' mom, Natalie, said on the Make-A-Wish site. "This wish has become kind of a family reunion and is our celebration of his treatment completion."

Along the way, throngs of people gathered to get a glimpse of the Batkid; nationwide, others were content to follow him on Twitter.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation says more than 10,000 people said they would take part. News crews did their best to keep up with the young crusader's breakneck pace. Some citizens — Gothamites for a day — wore Batman gear in solidarity with their hero.

The action began when Miles burst from his hotel in a Batmobile, a black Lamborghini with the signature Batman symbol on its hood and doors. He had been alerted to a crisis by a special plea from the police that interrupted an ABC 7 TV news report.

"Please, Caped Crusader! We need you!" San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr said.

Accompanied by an adult Batman, Miles rushed to save a woman who had been strapped to a bomb on a cable-car rail. In a dramatic entrance, Batkid leapt from a trampoline to spring into action. With the bomb safely removed, the woman thanked her rescuer with a hug.

The day included lunch with Batman — after all, proper nutrition is important for superheroes and 5-year-olds alike. In another caper, Batkid was to foil a bank robbery and save Lou Seal from The Penguin. From high above Union Square, he and Batman waved to a thankful populace.

They then went to the city's AT&T Park, where an epic battle ensued.

Later in the day, the U.S. Attorney for "Gotham Division" issued an indictment for The Riddler and The Penguin, naming Edward "E." Nigma and Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot.

Finally, the pair headed to City Hall, where a grateful mayor presented Batkid with the key to the city.

"Nov. 15, 2013, will be Batkid Day forever!" Mayor Ed Lee said, according to Vivian Ho of The San Francisco Chronicle. Lee called the town "Gotham City by the Bay."

Earlier in the day, Ho noted a show of solidarity from other pint-sized superheroes.

"Saw a tiny Superman and a tiny Spider-Man in Union Square to support #sfbatkid," she tweeted. "Adorable."

President Obama even got in on the act, sending Miles his congratulations via a Vine video.

"Way to go, Miles! Way to save Gotham!" the president said.

Gotham can sleep easy tonight, knowing that Batkid is on the job. We'll update this Bat-post with more Bat-news as it arrives. You can also follow his day on Facebook.

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
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