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10 years ago, Batkid was battling bad guys and cancer — now he's 15 and healthy

Batkid Miles Scott, center, received a key to the city from San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, left, on Nov. 15, 2013.
Make-A-Wish Foundation
Batkid Miles Scott, center, received a key to the city from San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, left, on Nov. 15, 2013.

Today, Miles Scott is a healthy teenager with a passion for baseball. He plays catcher for his high school in Tulelake, Calif.

"I wear all-black in baseball," Miles said. "So the dugout's always screaming 'Batkid! Batkid!'"

Ten years ago, the then-5-year-old Miles won hearts both in his hometown and around the world when he transformed into the black-clad superhero Batkid for a day, becoming an instant media sensation.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation, a non-profit that grants wishes to children who are seriously ill, partnered with the City of San Francisco to organize the adventure for Miles, who had been battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia since he was just 18 months old.

According to the Yale School of Medicine, the disease is the most common type of childhood cancer. Survival rates used to be low, but these days children with the disease have up to a 90% chance of going on to lead a healthy life.

Granting the wish

Make-A-Wish went to elaborate lengths to make Miles' dream of becoming Batman's sidekick Batkid true. The foundation enlisted the help of The Mayor of San Francisco (the late Ed Lee), the San Francisco Police and Fire Departments, the San Francisco Giants and many other individuals and entities.

San Francisco was re-dubbed "Gotham City" — Batman's fictional home — for the day. Clad in his Batkid costume and accompanied by a grownup Batman (played by Eric Johnston), the pair zipped around in their Batmobile thwarting villains — they prevented The Riddler from robbing a bank vault — and undertaking daring rescues, including freeing the San Francisco Giants' mascot Lou Seal from The Penguin's clutches.

"It's probably one of our most elaborate wishes," Jen Wilson, a marketing and promotions manager for Make-A-Wish Greater Bay Area, told Today in the run-up to the event 10 years ago. "It's very unusual. It's one that's taken several months to plan and countless people to make happen, from volunteers who are stepping up to play the roles of the villains to donations of services of all kinds. We've had an incredible amount of interest in helping with this wish."

<em>The San Francisco Chronicle</em> published a special edition to mark the occasion.
/ Make-A-Wish Foundation
/
Make-A-Wish Foundation
The San Francisco Chronicle published a special edition to mark the occasion.

Thousands of people descended on San Francisco to cheer Miles on. He earned a key to the city. The San Francisco Chronicle published a special edition of its daily newspaper to mark the occasion. Then-U.S. President Barack Obama sent Miles words of encouragement via a video message on social media.

"The feeling was palpable; you could just feel the positiveness and how the community came together," said Miles' mom, Natalie Scott. "People flew in from everywhere and it just gave everyone some sense of peace almost."

The event was covered by many mainstream media organizations, including NPR. And millions of people around the world followed the #Batkid hashtag on social media.

Batkid lives on

Batkid's legacy didn't end on that day.

The wish was the subject of the 2015 Warner Bros. documentary, Batkid Begins. Media organizations have revisited the story over the years. "He plays Little League, attends fifth grade, helps on his family's farm and sold his first market goat at the fair over the summer," reported his hometown California paper, The Siskyou Daily News, on Batkid's fifth anniversary in 2018.

Miles Scott on his 15th birthday on Aug. 15, 2023.
Natalie Scott / Make-A-Wish Foundation
/
Make-A-Wish Foundation
Miles Scott on his 15th birthday on Aug. 15, 2023.

And Miles himself has been free of cancer for the past few years.

"Every year he goes for a checkup, and everything's been on the straight and narrow, so, we hope to keep it that way," said Nick Scott, Miles' dad.

Miles has grown out of his Batkid costume. But his kid brother Ben donned it last Halloween.

Miles is now in high school and is looking ahead to the future.

"Right now, he's dead set on going to Alaska and being a 'pack mule' for his cousin's husband's guide business," said Natalie Scott. "And he has a lot of interest in welding. So we'll see!"

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Chloe Veltman
Chloe Veltman is a correspondent on NPR's Culture Desk.