On the edge of the Red River of the North, Lindenwood Park is quiet and still in the early morning.
It is as beautiful and nondescript of any Fargo park, but there is something especially super about this location.
For the past two years, Nick Vculek has hosted Wish Fast at Lindenwood, a superhero-themed walk or run to raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. On its third year this spring, Vculek’s annual charity event has become a unique staple in the Fargo-Moorhead community.
Registration on race day begins for Wish Fast 3: Civil War at 8 a.m. Friday in Lindenwood, with the run beginning soon after.
“Wish Fast started out as a class project my senior year at NDSU,” Vculek said. “We had to select a charity we wanted to do a fundraiser for. When I was thinking about what I wanted to do, I saw an article on Facebook about Miles Scott from San Francisco, A.K.A. the Batkid.”
In 2013, Miles Scott made national headlines when he got to assist his favorite superhero, Batman, in defending “Gotham” for a day.
Scott arrested famous Batman villains, rescued damsels in distress and received a key to the city for his efforts.
The city of San Francisco changed to Gotham for Scott’s wish and resulted in a grand total of $6 million, about 750 wishes in total (the average cost of a wish is roughly $8,000, as of 2013).
“(That) money could have been used to grant a great amount of wishes,” Vculek said. “So, when I submitted my project and gave my presentation, I thought, ‘Why can’t every child be a hero, whether they’re a Wish Kid or not?’ and ‘Why can’t we raise money to help grant all the wishes, not just one?’”
Since its conception in 2013, Vculek’s project has transformed into a community event that has grown bigger and better every year.
Kids and community members are encouraged to dress as their favorite superheroes and help defeat villains along the track with silly string and other super weapons.
This year, kids will not only be helping to defeat dastardly villains, but also their fellow superheroes. The theme is Civil War, in honor of the releases of “Batman vs. Superman” and “Captain America: Civil War.”
While kids are obviously the focus of the event, adults are encouraged to participate as well. After all, it is not just kids who have always dreamed of being their favorite superhero.
“Wish Fast is a walk and/or run event. It is not a race,” Vculek said. “It’s an opportunity to better one’s self and help others in need. It creates memories and instills the positive moral characteristics that our childhood superheroes had.”
After the event, there will be plenty of refreshments including healthy snacks, grilled foods and beverages to rejuvenate the superheroes’ mighty appetites.
Vculek’s vision is to have 500 participants and raise $9,000, roughly one wish.
To sign up, superheroes can go to Active.com and search for Wish Fast. They can also sign up the day of the event.
For the next two weeks, Vculek and other volunteers will be at the contact booths in the Memorial Union raising money and promoting the event. There will be opportunities to take selfies with superhero masks and enter to win a chance to see “Captain America: Civil War” when it premiers in theatres Friday.
“My favorite superhero is Captain America,” Vculek concludes. “He always believes in human rights, and tries to help others no matter their race, sex or beliefs.”