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Superheroes of Southern Maryland share message against bullying, peer pressure, drugs

By AMANDA HARRISON

Staff writer

A hero can be anyone — that’s what the Superheroes of Southern Maryland are trying to teach to kids in the region through their “Be A Hero!” campaign.

Superheroes of Southern Maryland was founded by two fathers of young kids, John Holman and Mike Koslofsky, who wanted to give children something to look up to.

“They have to look up to someone. Those they do look up to, like athletes, do things they shouldn’t do and get in trouble,” said Koslofsky, adding that athletes tend to “wave the kids off” when they’re looking to get signatures or pictures with the athletes.

Holman and Koslofsky said they wanted to make it clear that the superheroes aren’t just for show, but they have a message to share with kids about bullying, peer pressure and, “for the older kids,” drugs.

“We want to teach them how to be a hero without wearing a helmet,” Koslofsky said.

Holman said, “We want to stress, if you see something bad, and you don’t feel comfortable telling an adult, you can go to Batman or Iron Man and tell them.” He said children, with their parents’ permission, can go to the Superheroes of Southern Maryland website at www.superheroesofsmd.com, and share or ask questions.

Currently, the organization is only in possession of a Stormtrooper suit, like the ones worn in the “Star Wars” films, and, most recently, a Batman suit, like the one Christian Bale wears in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy.

“We’re not trying to do it halfway,” Koslofsky said of the costumes and props of the superheroes.

The intricately detailed suits are replicas of those seen in the most recent superhero movies. For example, Koslofsky said they plan to obtain a “Man of Steel” suit, rather than a Superman suit.

On Thursday, Batman made his first appearance in Southern Maryland at the Monterey Mexican Restaurant in Lusby.

“The nerd gods smiled on me today,” said Ashley Phillips, who was wearing a Batman hoodie. She jokingly said that when she first found out about Batman visiting Monterey, she had a minor heart attack.

“I’m overly excited,” Phillips said. “My nerd dreams are coming true.”

But the grown-ups weren’t the only ones excited to see Batman.

As Batman’s theme music from “The Dark Knight” played and Batman entered the restaurant, everyone turned to watch him wander the room.

“I think the biggest problem we have here is bullying, knowing right from wrong and peer pressure,” Batman said. “I also heard we have a drug problem.”

Logan Bowen, 4, of Prince Frederick was surprised when Batman came over to his table.

“I said, ‘Hi,’ and he shook my hand,” Logan said. “I got to hold his gun.”

His grandmother, Loretta Hall, said Logan didn’t know Batman was going to be there. “We just brought him,” she said.

Bruce Dell, 7, of Port Republic also was surprised when Batman showed up. “I was shocked,” he said. “I did not expect that.”

Batman is Bruce’s favorite superhero, he said, because “I just really like him. He doesn’t have any super powers and he still beats bad guys.”

TJ Wood, 10, and his mother, Lynda Wood, of Prince Frederick, were waiting there patiently for more than hour to see Batman.

“I kind of begged him to come,” said Lynda Wood of her son. They are both Batman fans.

Although he has only seen one of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy films, TJ said Batman was his favorite superhero.

“I just don’t like any other superhero. Who wouldn’t? He’s awesome,” TJ said, adding that he likes Batman “doing explosions” and that “his music is awesome.”

Lori Matsudaira, who was there with TJ and his mother, said, “I think it’s great he came here to Lusby. ... Yeah, this is fun.”

Superheroes of Southern Maryland expects Spider-man to be a part of their crew in late March or early April and Iron Man in May, “hopefully in time for the “Iron Man 3” premiere,” Koslofsky said.

Although the organization only consists of Holman and Koslofsky, they are looking to expand. Koslofsky said that background checks have been, and will continue to be, completed on those who wear the suits.

The organization also does birthday parties at an hourly rate, in addition to appearances in the community, which are free. The money, Koslofsky said, goes to the suits and props. While at birthday parties, the superheroes carry the same messages and teach a “Be A Hero!” Superhero Training Course.

“We wanna make a difference in these kids’ lives,” Holman said.

“The community has really taken to it,” Koslofsky said. “We’re really excited to see where this is going to go.”

To see where the superheroes are making appearances or to keep updated on Superheroes of Southern Maryland, go to their website, or their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/superheroesofSMD.

aharrison@somdnews.com