Batman drove 400 miles in his Batmobile to lay one of South Carolina’s mightiest superheroes to rest.
John Buckland traveled from his home in West Virginia to Townville, S.C., to deliver a eulogy Wednesday for 6-year-old school shooting victim Jacob Hall. Buckland never met Jacob, but relatives’ stories of the affectionate, superhero-loving boy gave him enough material for his address.
After little Jacob’s family decided they’d hold a superhero-themed funeral for the first-grader, who died Saturday following a shooting at Townville Elementary School, a family-friend reached out to Buckland, he said.
They started talking about Jacob’s passion for helping others — he loved superheroes because of their good deeds, his family said — and Buckland agreed to come to the funeral in full Batman garb.
“I just realized this is something I needed to do,” he said.
Buckland drove seven hours in his custom-built, street-legal Batmobile, arriving Tuesday in time for Jacob’s visitation. On Wednesday morning, he laid a wreath at the playground where Jacob was shot before heading over to the service.
Buckland paid his respects to Jacob, who was dressed in his own Batman costume, since the batty superhero was his favorite.
“Keep an eye on each other. Care about each other, love each other. If someone’s in trouble, reach out and give them the help they need, because Jacob would,” Buckland told the audience.
Jacob’s family insisted the funeral be a celebration of Jacob’s life, encouraging mourners to ditch traditional black outfits for capes and superhero shirts.
That positive energy was overwhelming, Buckland told The News.
“It was a lot of hope, a lot of positivity,” he said. “There’s peace. There’s hope. There’s forgiveness. There’s love. And that’s all the things that Jacob stood for.”
Buckland said his Heros4Higher travels usually keep him in West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky, but he’s gone all the way to the Pacific Ocean to spread messages of hope. Last year, after a terror attack in San Bernardino left 14 people dead, he drove out to California to support the community.
On all of his trips in his Batmobile, sometimes called the “Hope-mobile,” he passes out posters that say, “Tough things make me stronger” and teaches children Batman’s four basic rules: Never give up, always do the right thing, help others and never be a bully.
Buckland and his Heros4Higher volunteers have also served as pallbearers at eight pervious funerals, mostly for children who died with cancer and other childhood illnesses, he said. He’s added eight plaques under the Batmobile’s hood, one for each kid.
A ninth plaque for Jacob will be added as soon as it comes back from the engraver.