CI Hero: Central Illinois superheroes bring joy to kids in the hospital

CI Heroes

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — A local Captain America is leading the charge to bring happiness to kids in the hospital. Matthew Welker detailed his heartfelt adventure during this week’s CI Hero.

Characters for Kids brings costumed characters and gifts to children in the hospital. Welker founded the area non-profit in 2017.

“When I first started it was just a love for superheroes and just something I could do with some friends that would just make kids smile,” said Welker.

His journey changed in depth when his daughter was born.

“In 2018, my daughter was born with Down Syndrome and a congenital heart disease, so I went from being Captain America visiting hospitals to being dad visiting hospitals, and it was a pretty crazy change to happen,” said Welker.

He said he understands what the gesture means through the eyes of a parent.

“I know as a parent when people do little things like small gifts or special visitors to the hospital, it really does matter so much. When you can make the kids forget about treatment, and about all that’s going on, and just bring a smile to their face and help them with that, it’s one of the coolest feelings in the world.”

matthew welker

While COVID-19 restrictions sideline this Captain America he said he’s as invested as ever.

“It’s all about giving back and just making the kids smile,” said Welker. “Doing something positive in the community and it may seem weird to people that I’m a 30-year-old adult who’s just loaded with all this (I call it cool stuff) maybe not everybody looks at it that way, but if I can use something I’m passionate about and it brings smiles to others, I think it’s awesome.”

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