From saving a trapped Santa from the Ferris wheel at National Harbor to freeing D.C. sports mascots from bondage, 5-year-old Kaheem Philbert of Owings Mills was a superhero for a day on Friday — and the world was watching.
Kaheem, who suffers from chronic myeloid leukemia, became the superhero of his dreams thanks to Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic, which grants wishes to children ages 2 1/2 to 18 with life-threatening medical conditions.
Kaheem's wish was to save people "from the bad guys" like superheroes and local first responders do, according to Tara Wilson-Jones, the organization's vice president of marketing and communications.
On Monday, he received a letter from the "Superhero Council" about his future mission, and on Friday, he was "Super Kaheem" saving the nation's capital — all while wearing a green suit with a red cape initialed with a large "K."
Celebrities and local athletes, including Ravens players Joe Flacco, Steve Smith Sr. and Justin Tucker; Orioles player Chris Davis; and actor Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson cheered Kaheem on using the hashtags "#SuperKaheem" and "#KaheemSavesDC" on Twitter. Meanwhile, dozens of fans showed up at each location to show support for him on his many escapades through the city.
His first stop was at the National Harbor to save Santa from the Capital Wheel. Next, he took a D.C. fire boat to visit the U.S. Capitol, where he received a message from House Speaker Paul Ryan about a missing flag. Kaheem later found the flag, which had been flown over the Capitol building in his honor.
After some pizza and a nap, a clue led him to the National Theatre, where he caught a Grinch who was stealing presents. (The Grinch had a change of heart and gave back the presents, gifting one to Kaheem, Wilson-Jones said). Kaheem later headed to the Newseum by firetruck to save four Washington sports mascots who were tied up on the museum's balcony, including Screech and racing presidents Teddy Roosevelt and Abe Lincoln of the Washington Nationals, and Talon of D.C. United.
Kaheem Philbert and his family could not be reached for comment Monday by The Baltimore Sun.
At the end of the day of life-saving adventures, Make-A-Wish presented Kaheem with a custom-made superhero figure modeled after him. They even had one of the daily newspaper displays outside the museum switched out to show the front page of the "Wishington Post," which featured articles about Kaheem's superhero accomplishments.