The 'Route 29 Batman' speaks

Mar 29, 2012

Batman went viral earlier this week when he was pulled over in Silver Spring for a problem with his license plates. Since then, he has been unmasked -- sort of -- as Lenny B. Robinson of Baltimore County, Md., a 48-year-old do-gooder who visits children in the hospital.

"Batman" hosted a live Q&A at noon ET on Thursday.

"It feels like I have a responsibility that's beyond a normal person," Robinson said. "And that responsibility is to be there for the kids, to be strong for them, and to make them smile as much as I can."

Related coverage

- Who is the Route 29 Batman? This guy
- Photos: Batman brightens spirits of hospitalized children
- Batman pulled over in Silver Spring

Greetings! This is Mike Rosenwald. I've got Batman on the phone -- Lenny B. Robinson -- and I'm gonna type in his responses to your great questions. Let's start!

Batman you really are a superhero - I hope you know that. Thank you for everything you are doing.

The real Super Heroes are the children in the hospital. They are fighting every day for the their lives.I try to make a difference but they are the super heroes.

The suit you wear resembles the one worn by Michael Keaton in the 1989 Batman and 1992 Batman Returns. Is this correct - and if so, are those your favorite of the films? Who do you think the best actor is to dawn the cape and cowl?

In the movies Batman, Batman Returns, etc Michael Keaton in the 1989 movie had the best suit and the best car. The Dark Knight is a different take on Batman. The Joker Heath Ledger was amazing but he was a different type of joker than Jack Nicholson. Jack was more like Ceaser Romero back in the 1960s. I'm gonna go with Michael Keaton, for Batman. 

Why did you choose Batman as the visual symbol of your efforts? What is it about Batman that represents something positive & affirming for these young people?

Batman is the only super hero that doesn't have super powers. He's naturally a super hero. Kids can relate to me a lot better. If they see Superaman, all the want him to do. Well, that's not happening. Batman is real. At least when I put my costume on---I'm looking right at him.

Hi Batman! (no pun intended) How much do you spend on gas and how fast can the Batmobile go?

Unfortunately the car is not economically friendly. It's a 10-cylinder, jacked up 700 horsepower, it's all wheel drive with a top speed of just over 200 mph. The mpg are between 10 and 12!I can 16-17 on the highway.

Nothing worse than being sick as a child and being a parent of one, so I am sure your doing something worthwhile. What percentage of the children you visit would you say are terminal? What do the parents say, or how do they respond to you?

The parents are beyond extremely grateful and comments that, "this is the first time my son or daughter has smiled in months" --that's one comment I get a lot. I was at Mt. Washington pediatric center and there was a patient that just sat in wheelchair and had no emotion until I came and then he moved his hands and his feet and his head and came to life. At the end of the day, I say to myself, "Did I make a difference?" i hope the answer is yes. 

How did you feel when you were "unmasked"? I had always suspected Bruce Wayne was you.

It doesn't bother me in the least because I'm real a person. It's beyond beyond. I've gotten FB messages and emails from Germany, Vietnam, it's number one story in Chile, Italy....It feels good.   

This is Laurie from Hope for Henry. I just want to thank you for coming to all the Hope for Henry Superhero Celebrations and making the kids so happy. One particular image sticks in my mind from a recent party at Georgetown Hospital's Lombardi Cancer Center. There were two little girls, both hooked up to IVs and you shrouded them under your cape, IVs and all, and they had the biggest smiles on their faces. Then you helped one of the girls move her IV pole so she could sit in the Batmobile. I know she and her parents will never forget how happy you made her that day and neither will I.

Thanks Laurie. I am proud to be associated with Hope for Henry and what the organiation does for children in the hospitals. 

When you decided on a career in journalism, did you ever anticipate that you'd be able to type "I've got Batman on the phone"?

(THIS IS MIKE HERE: NO I DID NOT!)

Hey there Batman! How'd you get your hands on the amazing suit - is it custom-made, or is it an original from one of the films?

It's custom made, from a company in New Jersey. It costs about $5000. I went up there for fittings and then for the final outfit. I get it cleaned it Owens Mills dry cleaners. There's a picture of me on the wall. 

Was there anything in your childhood that caused you to want to do this? Or was it a calling that happened in your adulthood?

A calling that happened in my adulthood thanks to my son Brandon whose obessesion became my obesssion and then my OCD kicked in. 

How often does your teenage son play Robin with you?

Brandon is going to University of Maryland next year. He does it quite often when he visits me -- his main residence is in New Jersey. He has been Robin with me 55, 66 times. His twin brother Jake has been Robin about a dozen times. My oldest son Justin who is at Emory has been Robin once --- and only once. 

How long does it take you to get into your suit?

Approximately 45 minutes because it's not just getting in suit but it's the black makeup around the eyes too. And it takes forever to get that makeup off because it's water proof!

Why do you think Batman has retained such longevity in American pop culture? He's an incredibly popular character whose back story and main details have changed very little since his introduction in the 1930s.

Batman is part of America like baseball, apple pie, and Chevrolet. He's consistent. And at the end of the day he always does the right thing.

What do you say to them when you visit them that you feel is in a sense inspiring and giving them hope? What are their responses when they see you?

They ask how fast can the bat mobile go. Where do I live? The older kids love Batman but they love the car. The younger kids into both. The age groups reflects ages 3 to 12...but nevertheless, parents and adults become little kids too. They take pictures, they take videos.

You visit a lot of children in hospitals. Sure, they love Batman, but what do they crave the most?

I'm sure they'd love to be home and attending school with their friends and see me at that venue.

It would seem like Batman would scare people, but we love him! Why is a guy who looks so scary bring a smile to our faces?

I try to be very friendly and smile to ease their trepidation. I always ask their names. If they are really scared, I will bend down and let them feel my ears.

What's your day job, and what inspired you to do this? Did you experienced a serious childhood illness - directly or indirectly? Thanks...

Fortunately I was one of the lucky ones and never got sick. I am involved in various business ventures.

When you were stopped the other day, you were coming from Georgetown Hospital for the Hope for Henry Foundation. What is that?

I wish more people knew about Hope for Henry. Here is where to find information: http://www.hopeforhenry.org/

It was obviously funny seeing Batman pulled over by the police. Have you had any other such encounters while dressed as your alter-ego? Maybe an emergency bathroom stop somewhere or a McDonald's drive-thru incident?

I've had a flat tire. When I go to the gas station to fill up, I can't think of a time that hasn't taken me 30 minutes to get out of the gas station. I get gas now after the events because getting it before was making me late to the events I was going to.

Well, thanks for all the great questions everyone. And remember at the end of the day you have to ask yourself, "Self, did I make a difference?" -- and the answer better be yes! 

In This Chat
Lenny B. Robinson
By day, Lenny Robinson is a businessman from Baltimore County, Md. By night (and other times), he is Batman -- a caped crusader who visits sick children in hospitals and earlier this week went viral when his "Batmobile" was stopped by police for a problem with his license plates.
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