So many kids (and even some adults) dream of having the Avengers crash their birthday party. While most have to settle for a Captain America-themed cake, settling wasn’t in the cards for 8-year-old Dylan Panchoosingh, who was diagnosed with stage 4 pediatric neuroblastoma, a cancerous tumor that affects the nervous system, in 2016.
Six rounds of chemo, two stem-cell transplants, radiation, and immunotherapy meant many years with little time for a big birthday party. After a particularly bad holiday season in which Dylan lost a close friend and caught the flu, his mom, Teresa Ma, decided that his golden birthday — the birthday that reflects which age you’ll be turning — would have to be extra special.
Last Saturday at a private venue in New York City, a group of New York-based heroes known as the NY Avengers made sure Dylan would get more than *just* a cake, and they showed up to give Dynamic Dylan — the superhero persona he dons when it’s time for battle — the extra-special party he deserved.
After meeting the NY Avengers at New York Comic Con a few months prior, Ma called up founder Samantha Catalano, who quickly gathered the team. Catalano enlisted some of her fellow superhero cosplayers, who attend numerous charity events, to assemble for Dylan’s birthday.
There was one potential hitch: Dylan’s all-time favorite hero is Venom. (His mom thinks its because Tom Hardy gave him one of the bracelets he wore in the movie at an event for kids with illnesses, “but he won’t admit that.” He insists that Venom is cool because he has tentacles and powers.) Venom is not a particularly easy character to find a kid-friendly version of, but the NY Avengers used their powers to make it happen. Along with Venom, 14 members of the group dressed as characters from both the DC and Marvel universes — justice doesn’t pick sides.
The party had a little bit of everything: Batman started a conga line, and an NYPD officer made Dylan an honorary officer, solidifying the fact that he’s a real New York City Hero. Ma said that Dylan’s the kind of kid who wants to play it cool when he’s happy, but that day it was impossible to hide his smile.
Catalano and a fellow Avenger put together a wishlist for Dylan, ultimately resulting in more than 50 presents. “We didn’t just surprise him with his favorite superheroes, we surprised him with each superhero holding gifts for him to open as well,” she says. “Seeing the smile on his face made all the preparation and Dom Charland’s never-ending gift wrapping all worth it!”
Ma said the wishlist was better than anything she could have done — it had every possible superhero toy. She says Dylan often asks to wear his Venom T-shirt, and he puts the Thanos glove on every day when he gets home.
We can all be a little more like Dynamic Dylan. Donate to his GoFundMe page here.
Know a kid in New York who needs a little extra magic in their life? Give the superheroes a call — no bat signal necessary.
Photos: Durnin Industries Photography