Sick kids empowered by superhero capes made by Danville mom


The Ronald McDonald House at Stanford is not the kind of place that we or anyone we care about would ever want to stay, until we need it. Everyone here is either really sick, or knows someone who is really sick.

Even 6-year-old Alex McCrone, he's had a relapse of a rare and difficult soft tissue cancer.

"He lives for the moment," said Alex's father. "He lives in the moment."

Especially tonight, because it's party time.

"Yes, I want the capes!" exclaimed Alex. "I want the capes!"

Alex had no idea that the preparations began weeks earlier at Anthony Ochoa Middle School in Hayward. Kids like Shane Garrett and Brandon Salas had no idea what they were getting into. First, they had to handle a needle and thread.

When told to not stick himself with the needle Brandon laughed, "I already did!"

Then they had to empathize with kids they had never even met.

When asked what's the sickest he'd ever been, 8th grader Shane answered, "Just the flu."

Meanwhile fellow 8th grader Brandon said he can't imagine what those kids are going through. And when asked if he'd ever want to he said, "It may seem kind of selfish, but no."

All of the 8th graders in this academy were making capes, superhero capes, if you haven't yet noticed.

It's all in a day's work for Barbara Casados. If you ever meet her, never question what a cape can do for a sick kid.

"It makes them feel as if they can conquer their battle, their battle that they're facing right now," Casados said.

The Danville mom knows from experience. She and her husband have three boys. They're little angels most of the time. But when doctors diagnosed autism in now 6-year-old Maddox, that was tough.

"Non-verbal, violent, banging his head against the wall, flapping, twirling," Casados said. "Did not feel any pain, he would fall down bleeding, not feeling any pain."

And this is where the capes came in. One day out of desperation, Casados sat down in the family room and set to sewing herself a miracle.

"It fixed him inside," she said. "It made him feel strong."

Maddox's older brother Tyler added, "He got, maybe super powers."

"I do not know what autism is, but I did have autism," said Maddox.

Casados agreed simply saying, "He's recovered."

"Yes, not anymore!" said Maddox while laughing.

Well, one cape led to a second for a friend, and then a third who also had to have one. And before long, Casados had made hundreds.

Then she got in touch with the Ronald McDonald House at Stanford and they asked for a few.

"How do you pick a few when you have a whole list in front of you?" Casados asked.

With all of those requests Casados formed a charity called "Kiss the Toad Creations." By now, at events like this, the Danville mom and her friends have given away thousands of capes.

One at a time the kids come in and make selections.

"If I can bring another child the happiness or the parent the happiness to see their child smile when they're going through a tough time, why wouldn't I?" Casados asked. "Imagine if everybody did something nice for someone else. Where would we be?"

For a first-timer like Brandon, it's an eye-opener, "I feel wonderful, he said. "

Late in the evening, Alex and his new best friend Maddox showed up.

"Alex and him connected from the beginning," Casados said. "And my child is socially awkward, he has social issues with the autism. But he connected with Alex, one of the sickest children here."

Small victories will always be more significant when they follow major setbacks. And this night we saw one, two, dozens, actually.

"It all started with capes," Casados said. "Just one cape. And look where we're at now."

Strong enough to face tomorrow.

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