Turning Health Struggles To Smiles

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If you’re a parent and you’ve ever had a sick child, you probably know it can be hard to handle.  It’s often difficult to watch children battle serious illnesses, but one man is making it his goal to make them smile through their pain.

Terry Mattke is always hoping to close on a car deal.

He spends most of his days selling cars at Verne Eide Honda in Sioux Falls. But there’s a lot more to this car salesman than meets the eye. 

Every now and then, he makes a swift transformation… into Batman the Dark Knight.

“I’ve always been passionate about Batman… Batman has always been my hero,” Mattke said.

While we all know Batman has a dark side, this Sioux Falls superhero has made it his mission to shine a light into the lives of children battling deadly illnesses.

“Wanting to help people in need or sick, it’s just one of those things I just thought I should do,” Mattke said.

So he’s come to Sanford Children’s Hospital’s “Crowns for a Cause” event. While not all the children are sick, there are several facing health challenges.

“I like to see their eyes sparkle. They just light up you know like bright as day… like there’s nothing’s wrong. I just want them to feel like a normal child,” Mattke said.

Dressing up super hero costumes is something Mattke has always enjoyed, but just recently he got the calling to use his hobby for a bigger purpose.

“When I got the costume and I talked to my wife about it I said we’re not only going to do this, but we’re going to… I want to get in the hospitals, I want to go visit children, I want to brighten days,” Mattke said.
 
Since that moment he’s hit the ground running, volunteering at several events including one of Sanford Children’s Hospital’s radio-a-thon events where he says he met several kids with cancer.

Lori Dykstra remembers the feeling of tending to a sick child day in and day out. We first introduced you to her son, Jakob Beier in a story we brought you on KELOLAND News back in 2003.

“My son Jakob was diagnosed with brain cancer when he was five, and he battled for 10 months and he ended up losing that battle,” Dysktra said.

After a delicate brain surgery, and months of radiation treatments and chemotherapy, Beier died just two weeks shy of his sixth birthday.  Today, his mom thinks back to how he might have reacted had he got the chance to meet one of his favorite super heroes in person.

“He would have been ecstatic! If Batman came into his room he probably would have freaked out in a good way!” Dysktra said.

That’s why she’s glad Mattke is helping other children who may be going through the same thing.

“I think it’s amazing and it helps these kids. If it puts a smile on their face while they’re having some pretty bad days… I think it helps the families too and the parents to see the kids smile and enjoy this,” Dysktra said.

“You know a lot of kids… their hero is Batman,” Mattke said, “The reality that they’ve seen a real live Batman and they’ve had a chance to meet the actual Batman. It’s something to give them the memories of and to always have.”

Creating those lasting memories is this dark knight’s only wish.

“That’s just what it’s about. Giving back to them. That’s the only way that I can repay them for the hardships that they endure and they go through on a day to day basis,” Mattke said.

And he’s hoping he can be a pioneer to push others into following his lead.

“You know I hope, maybe this gets a couple more people motivated to come and do the things that we do you now. Come out and brighten a child’s day,” Mattke said.

It’s something Dykstra is hoping to see more of.

“I think Batman needs to talk to Superman and the ninja turtles, and everybody needs to come and visit these kids, because if they can help put smiles on these kids’ faces, that’s a job well done don’t you think,” Dykstra said.

Most of the events Mattke has done in Sioux Falls have been outdoors. He’s is currently making plans to visit sick children in their rooms at Sanford Children’s hospital.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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