Bodybuilder-turned-Batman impersonator aims to give special needs children a confidence boost
MONTREAL -- Six-year-old Konstantin has been wearing his Batman t-shirt every day for the past two weeks in anticipation of a very special event: meeting Batman himself.
Konstantin has a neurological disorder that affects his speech called verbal apraxia, which has caused him to deal with teasing and bullying, according to his mother Svetlana Chernienko.
"He knows what he wants to say, he understands what everyone says around him, [but] due to verbal apraxia it jumbles up everything in his mind and it kinda puts the words backward so he can't verbalize it,” she explains.
Batman paid Konstantin a visit to help boost his confidence before the start of the school year — and he even let him sit in the Batmobile.
"What an emotional day,” says Chernienko “It took me off guard. It literally knocked me off my feet because I didn't know how I was going to react seeing him that happy."
The moment was made possible by Mahmood Al Durrah, a former professional bodybuilder-turned-Batman impersonator whose new mission is to make kids with special needs smile.
"Life has been very good to me, I've been very blessed,” says Al Durrah. “I just wanted to do something more meaningful besides things that are related to fitness.”
Al Durrah says he chose to start dressing up like a superhero because it's worked for him in the past.
After his son was bullied at daycare, Al Durrah decided to dress up as Spiderman and pay him a visit.
“The bullying stopped because all of the kids thought he was actually friends with Spiderman,” he says.
His new setup is a bit higher budget, featuring an official replica batman suit and a Lamborghini Batmobile — and he does it all for free.
"What he's doing is incredible,” says Chernienko. “It's a game changer for these children."
And according to Al Durrah, “Part of me is doing this so I can become a better person.”