Boy with ASD Had Fun at His Spider-Man Themed Birthday Party, But a Bigger Surprise Was in Store…
Stan Lee, co-creator of comic staples like Spider-Man, X-Men, Iron Man, and others, recently did something very special for a boy with autism — he sent him a drawing of his favorite superhero.
— NYT Metro Desk (@NYTMetro) February 21, 2015
How did Stan hear about the young boy? Well, Jamel Hunter was featured in a New York Times article in December. He loves Spider-Man, so for his 8th birthday, his mother put together a Spider-Man party for him — the first party Jamel had ever had. As is common among those on the spectrum, parties, loud noises, and breaks in routine can cause meltdowns, so this was a big step for him.
Jamel is the youngest of five. His mother has Blount’s Disease, and her kidneys are failing, so she sometimes has to use a motorized wheelchair to get around. This has made it impossible for her to work, so the family lives off of social security benefits.
The party took up a room in the housing project’s community center in East Harlem, and boasted Spider-Man cupcakes, balloons, a spider made of frosting, decorations, and a homemade game featuring Spider-Man that was akin to pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey. A clown even painted Jamel’s face to look like Spider-Man. Jamel disappeared for a while during the party to escape the noise — which his family expected — but at the end of the night, he had stated, “I was happy with my birthday party.”
After the initial article came out, Lee’s neighbor (jazz musician Corky Hale) brought it to Lee’s attention — and encouraged him to reach out to Jamal. Stan agreed. “How could I not?” he told CNN. Spider-Man is a New Yorker, just like Jamal, and since the superhero is a teenager, young people can easily relate to him.
So Stan Lee drew Jamel a picture. Although he wrote Spider-Man, he wasn’t the artist for the series — Spider-Man was first drawn by Steve Ditko. But Lee could still do a fine sketch of the teenage hero, so he did exactly that, adding a speech bubble that said, “Hi Jamel!” and his signature on the bottom. Michael Wilson, a writer for the NY Times, delivered the drawing to Jamal’s home in East Harlem.