When young Atlanta resident Dwyane “DJ” Pitts was only 3 years old, he got a hold of a bottle of caustic cleaning solution.
“I drank some chemicals,” he explained to WXIA. And those chemicals were so strong that they damaged him horribly inside.
“He was in a coma for eight days,” his mother, Natoya Ruff, said. The chemicals burned him from the tip of his lip to two inches into his intestines.”
Can a tiny child recover from such a horrible injury? Yes, he could — but it wasn’t easy.
Fox News reported that DJ needed to undergo surgery in September 2013 to replace all of his esophagus and part of his stomach. He had to spend over five months recuperating in the hospital.
During that time, a nurse gave DJ a cape just like the kind that Superman wears, a reminder to cultivate inner strength despite outward tribulation. Catherine Shields, a life specialist at the hospital, said, “It changed everything.
“He loved it. He wanted to eat in it. He wanted to go to procedures in his cape.”
Ruff herself recalled, “It was, like, ‘I have this costume on, so instead of being DJ, I’m going to be this strong hero and have this braveness about me.’”
It was a bravery that DJ decided to share with others after he made it out of the hospital. In 2014, he dressed up in a Green Lantern costume and returned to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta with a stack of capes to give other children facing medical hardships.
“To see this kid who went through so much in the hospital not be afraid to come back — who’s not crying when he comes through the doors,” Catherine Shields, a life specialist at the hospital, said. “He’s excited to be here.”
And that wasn’t the only time that DJ spread cape-related cheer. Cape Day became an annual occurrence at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, and so did DJ.
Thousands of children have received their own superhero capes thanks to DJ. He has often been the one to personally hand the capes to them.
His involvement has earned him a bit of fame, even among the well-heeled and famous. Ruff stated, “One day, [rapper] Ludacris was here for an event and said ‘Hey, there is the Cape boy!’”
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