WATERLOO, Ill. - A local superhero is on the mend after being badly injured when a tractor hit his bicycle. His fans across the Metro East are coming together to show support for the young man.
For months, the 21-year-old has been getting attention for dressing up in full Spider-Man costume and connecting with the community. He is often seen biking and skateboarding around town and attending community events.
On Tuesday, September 3, he was airlifted to a St. Louis hospital after he was involved in an accident. Friends said his bicycle was hit by a tractor pulling farm equipment on IL Route 3.
The man was thrown from his bike and badly injured. He underwent surgery on Wednesday, September 4.
A GoFundMe page has been set up so people can support their friendly neighborhood Spider-Man with medical expenses, recovery, and rehabilitation. Donations may also be made to the "Southern Illinois Spider-Man Fund" at any branch of 1st National Bank of Waterloo. Friends are also working to plan a benefit in Red Bud, Illinois at a later date.
For several months, he has been an ambassador for Monroe County by supporting local businesses and promoting fundraisers. Friends said he really seems to enjoy making kids happy.
"Saying hi, give them high fives, go to the park, play with them," said Becky Simshauser of Waterloo. "I think that just making the kids feel like they've got a local superhero for them is his main concern."
Hillary Kaufmann and her four-year-old son Teagan met Spider-Man around town, and they became fast friends.
"My son didn't even know who Spider-Man was before him and now it's nothing but Spider-Man," said Kaufmann.
The mystery man has revealed himself to a few adults, including Simshauser and Kaufmann, but he prefers to keep his true identity under wraps.
"He wanted to keep his identity hush-hush so kids would think, 'Oh, that was the real Spider-Man,'" said Kaufmann.
Friends say Spider-Man, much like the rest of the greater Waterloo community, was impacted by the death of Illinois State Trooper Nick Hopkins and wanted to do something to help. Hours before Tuesday's accident, he teamed up with Bean Tree Cafe in Waterloo to offer the WebSlinger, a frozen white chocolate mocha with Oreo cookie crumbles. This month, proceeds from the WebSlinger will benefit BackStoppers.