First rule of hospital crime fighting: If you’re going to be a superhero, you need a cape.
And if you need a snazzy, superhero cape, 9-year-old Paige Sullivan of North Carolina is your go-to girl.
The effervescent child was born with a rare heart condition that left her at a great risk for cardiac arrest. So all those fun, high-octane activities associated with childhood were out the window for Paige.
That is, until she was old enough to undergo open-heart surgery to repair her misconnected coronary arteries, which she had this summer.
Enter the cape. One must, she says, “embrace your cape.”
Her doctor called her a superhero for good-naturedly undergoing all the poking and prodding, scans and hospital stays.
So, she thought, she should make superhero capes for others like her – “kids “stuck in the hospital for like holidays and other times... If they had a superhero cape, that would make them feel more better.”
Her mom, Racine McCulloch, helps by buying fabric and ribbon. She doesn’t know how to sew, and isn’t really keen on learning, so she Googled “no-sew capes” and came up with a way, involving glue, a yardstick and a ribbon, to make them without picking up a needle or thread.
On Monday, Paige and her mom distributed Halloween-themed capes to kids in the Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit of Duke University Hospital.
Carrying fabric emblazoned with pumpkins and the word “Boo!” the now-healthy child passed them out with big smiles while her former nurses called her “love bug” and told her how great she looks since recovering from surgery in June.
Paige wants to make capes for “kids all around the world.” So far, she’s fashioned 150, many of them in her favorite colors of blue, purple and yellow.
She is also writing a book, excerpts of which can be seen on her website, The Heart of Paige. She wants to offer advice on things she knew nothing about upon entering the hospital.
Scary procedures such as the claustrophobia-inducing CAT scan, the ever-scary needles and their attendant IVs, and pain, “a lot of pain,” she warns.
Producing the capes, she says, “made me feel really good and it made me happier and it made me forget about some of the bad things that happened before, like when I kept getting sick.”