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Case #702

"Caped Crusaders" dedicate themselves to doing good in the World


Blazing Echidna (formerly known as Ethan Hughes of Gloucester, Massachusetts) saw needs in the world and set out to fill them. Using his creative love of costume and desire for joyful play and good fun, Echida formed a volunteer band of "superhero" helpers and hit the road to put their energy to good use. He invites anyone willing to don a homemade costume and serve others in need to join him. Ranging in age from eight to fifty-six, the superheroes are carpenters, teachers, mechanics, activists, artists, and otherwise everyday citizens from every corner of the country. No job is too large or too small for the superheroes. In the summer of 2000, they bicycled 5,500 miles through sixteen states, leaving a trail of good deeds in their wake. They helped nuns harvest string beans for the homeless outside Cleveland, Ohio; built a handicapped-accessible ramp for a women's shelter in Missouri; shoveled a huge pile of llama manure for community gardens in Missoula, Montana; and held a hoedown for 200 mentally disabled adults in Chelmsford, Massachusetts. Echidna derives super power from the words of his own hero, Mahatma Gandhi: "You must be the change you wish to see in the world." Pedaling from town to town with his band of caped crusaders, he makes it real and has a good time while he's at it.


Blazing Echidna (BE) is an outstanding example of an ordinary citizen who has made a choice to engage in extraordinary service to humankind. He and his band of superheroes have no political or social agenda, only an open ended and flexible commitment to help those in need. They rely on pedal power and bulk organic foods when they're traveling and they don't force their views about going easy on the planet. "It (all) started with the idea: what would a superhero do?" says Hughes, a high school biology teacher in his other life. "It doesn't take anything amazing to help someone. We do things that anyone could do. Listening to someone, painting, picking up trash-it feels so good. You don't need to be a Ph.D."

Smaller actions such as these are certainly possible by any individual or group of people, anywhere, anytime. Actions could vary according to each culture where people were working. They do not need to incorporate the craziness of BE and his group in order to be effective. But then, wouldn't that be the most fun way to do it?

Location: Eugene, Oregon, US
Action: Direct
Setting: Developed World
Extent of Action: National
Issues: Other
Year(s): 2000
Outcome successful
Source: Hope (magazine), January/February 2002, p.18


Hero Alliance, 78590 Echo Hollow Lane, Cottage Grove, OR 97424

Prepared By: sl, 5/02
Rating: 1
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