Courtesy of Peter Tangen A group shot of the Real Life Superheroes.

The superheroes of your youth may not longer be complete fiction.

Across the globe, masked avengers guard the streets to prevent and fight crime. Within a community that seems like a fantasy world, some people have pushed their childhood dreams further.

Approximately 600 superheroes protect their communities in different ways, often disguised by costumes. Alone or with teammates, these men and women patrol the streets of their cities to help those in need, often risking their own lives.

We call them: Real Life Superheroes.

CHOOSING TO BECOME A REAL LIFE SUPERHERO

Although some might think they are crazy, Real Life Superheroes (RLSH) are regular people who want to make a difference in the world. They are journalists, teachers, bouncers, business people, truck drivers, cashiers. When they put on their mask or outfit, they become the superheroes they want to be.

Some patrol the streets at night to fight crime. Many raise funds and do charity work for specific causes. Many give aid to those affected by natural disasters. However, one specialty does not limit the causes to which an RLSH contributes.

Surprisingly, documented Real Life Superheroes have existed since 1969. Until a couple of years ago, they were underground, trying not to be noticed. Some Superheroes have been active for more than 20 years.

Many RLSH are motivated by their personal experiences. A victim of domestic abuse might raise funds for the cause. And a victim of violent crime might patrol the streets to keep people safe. Some Superheroes are seeking fame, others do it for fun.

Whatever the motivation, fulfilling the mandate is not an easy task. Some Superheroes work every other weekend, while others patrol three to five nights a week.

Several of them have children. With no financial help, it can be an expensive activity – many Superheroes offer water, food and warm clothing to their “wards” who live on the street.

Equipment costs can run high – cameras, walkie-talkies, pepper spray, tasers. Costumes, or uniforms, as some call them, are another consideration. Some choose them to be friendly-looking while others want to intimidate law-breakers. Some can’t be disguised at all, based on state and local law.

Depending on the danger of what they do, some Superheroes must be cautious not to reveal their identities – the suspects they have helped get arrested could seek retaliation.

DOES THIS SOUND LIKE A JOB FOR YOU?

As Sage Michael reminds us in his book How to Become a Superhero, not all fictional Superheroes have super powers. Batman and Ironman are the most human personas, mortal, with strengths and weaknesses.

What is not negotiable: good values, positive motivation and training for the task. Control and respect are important too, as many new real life superheroes sometimes push the limit too far, becoming vigilantes. The goal is to use their strength for the right motives, to respect the law and let authorities do their work.

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