Although Christian Bale’s time as the brooding Batman may be over, the actor is still responding to the Bat-Signal. Bale flew Jayden Barber, a 4-year-old boy battling cancer in his right arm, with his family, to his Los Angeles, Calif., home to meet his young fan.
The get-together occurred after a Facebook group called “Lighting the Batsignal for Jayden!” garnered over 30,000 supporters who tried to get Jayden’s story heard.
For the Barbers, the fight against Jayden’s Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS) Leukemia has been an exercise in family and community resilience. Treatment required T-cell infusions.
“That was only a one-in-a-million chance that would even work, because they do it in adults, but they don’t do it in pediatric,” Jayden’s father, Tim, says.
“Just everybody in the entire city was just rallying around Jayden,” says Lauren Barber, Jayden’s aunt and co-founder of the “Lighting the Batsignal for Jayden” Facebook page.The local efforts included a resident donating an actual Bat-Signal, which was used for an event at Boardman High School (Boardman, Ohio) where Jayden was escorted by a black Maserati Batmobile, and the mayor of Youngstown, Ohio, Chuck Sammarone, declaring Aug. 23 “Jayden Barber Day.”
But the big victory came when the Barbers heard that they would meet Bale, along with some even bigger news about Jayden’s health.
“I was actually at work, and my wife called me,” Tim says. “It was the same day we found out that our son is in remission. […] The whole day will probably never leave either of our memories.”
Tim is succinct when describing the trip to California: “It was amazing. It really was.” This comes after Bale visited victims of the shooting at a midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora, Colo. It’s humbling to see that although celebrities and superheroes often mean the world to young people, actors like Bale recognize there are more important things in life.
“I remember thinking how amazing he was, out of his busy schedule, having his own family, that he’s willing to do something so sweet for a family that he’s never met, thousands of miles away,” Lauren says. “But because he has a heart of gold, he’s thinking of our family and of our Jayden, and I think that’s amazing.”
Now, Jayden is looking forward to being 5 years old when his birthday arrives on Sept. 17.
“Jayden’s cancer is so rare that he is the history book,” Lauren says. “There’s nothing they can compare him to. […] So as of right now, the plan is to just enjoy spending time.”
A family party is planned, and a local Batman performer is scheduled to make an appearance. Jayden met his hero and his cancer is now in remission. Not a bad birthday at all.
Photos courtesy of the Barber family