2016-08-15 / Front Page

Father-daughter duo provide ‘super’ time for sick children

BUSINESS MATTERS
Rod Harmon

SACO — To be a good funeral home director, one has to be compassionate, kind and strong; a combination of serenity and empathy necessary to help others cope with one of the worst times of their lives. It’s never easy facing loss. Imagine dealing with it every day.

Four generations at Cote Funeral Home have striven to live up to that standard. Now co-owner Stacey Cote is taking it a step further with his 10-year-old daughter, Ariana, with the project Batman for Life .

As Batman and Catwoman, they’re making the rounds of New England children’s hospitals and charitable events to make sick children feel a little better, if only for a little while. To make them think about something other than their illnesses, to make them feel just like every other kid.

To make them smile.

“I’m really happy we’re doing this, because it makes me feel good to help children,” said Ariana, a student at C.K. Burns School. “It touches your heart.”


Stacey and his 10-year-old daughter Ariana Cote, both of Saco, are making personal appearances as Batman and Catwoman under Batman for Life, a project designed to help sick and disadvantaged children. 
SUBMITTED PHOTO Stacey and his 10-year-old daughter Ariana Cote, both of Saco, are making personal appearances as Batman and Catwoman under Batman for Life, a project designed to help sick and disadvantaged children. SUBMITTED PHOTO The Cotes – Stacey, his wife Lori and their children Ariana and Anakin, age 5 – are big fans of superheroes, particularly the “Dark Knight” movie trilogy starring Christian Bale as the Caped Crusader.

In December, Stacey and Ariana staged a mock fight as Batman and the Joker aboard a truck in the Saco Holiday Festival parade, and the response from the crowd was so enthusiastic, Stacey started thinking about how they could expand on the theme.

“I saw the excitement of the children, and I thought, ‘You know, this is something we should do,’” he said.

But he didn’t want to do it for money. And he wanted to do something that helped kids.

Thus was born Batman for Life .

To make the experience as realistic as possible, Stacey ordered a custom-made Batman suit from a company in Florida. An exact replica of Bale’s suit from the movies, it’s made of urethane rubber, consists of 10 pieces, and takes more than an hour to put on. Driving while in costume can be a challenge (especially when your cape gets caught in the car door during a rainstorm – yep, that happened), so Lori usually drives them to appearances.

They ordered Ariana’s costume off Amazon.com, and made a few adjustments. She decided to be Catwoman instead of, say, Batgirl, so she and her dad could stage mock fights as entertainment. Plus, it allows her to show off her taekwondo skills (she’s a red belt).

It took several months for Stacey’s suit to arrive. In the meantime, he was corresponding with the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital in Portland, with the help of Cote funeral directors Jeff Dobson Jr. and Nate Colson. (“It’s a team effort,” Stacey said.)

They made their first appearance as Batman and Catwoman at the hospital on March 24, the day before the national opening of the movie “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.” They told the children that Batman had postponed attending the movie premiere on the West Coast to go to the hospital.

It was a rewarding, and emotional, experience, Stacey said.

“One mother asked, ‘Can my daughter touch you?’” he recounted, eyes welling up with tears. “And I said, ‘Absolutely.’”

The Cotes have been corresponding with Boston Children’s Hospital and St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital about doing appearances, and has booked the local Rotary’s annual Christmas party. They’re also planning on making a return appearance at the Saco Holiday Festival, probably with Anakin also portraying Batman.

Stacey has been approached to go to daycare centers and other facilities, but he wants to focus on sick and disadvantaged children.

“I don’t want to do it for money,” he said. “If we can make a difference by getting a simple smile, that’s all the reward we need.”

For more information about Batman for Life, visit facebook.com/Darkknight4life/photos.

— Rod Harmon is managing editor of the Journal Tribune. Send business news to rharmon@journaltribune.com.

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