Spider-Mable takes on cancer and crime in Edmonton
Mable Tooke awoke Monday morning to a special newscast, just for her. In it, police reported the kidnapping of Oilers captain Andrew Ference, and appealed directly to the six-year-old for help.
Watching the video, Lisa Tooke says her daughter’s expression went from disbelief to a slow smile, a big grin, and then a simple: “Let’s go.”
Mable was diagnosed two years ago with acute lymphoblastic leukemia and became a Spider-Man fan while in the hospital for the first time. She liked him in part because he has radioactive blood, like her.
Her dad, Neil Tooke, said when Mable was granted a wish through the Children’s Wish Foundation, there was no question what it would be.
“The world was open to her,” he said. “But right from early on, she said, ‘I want to fight crime with Spider-Man.’”
After the call for help, Mable dressed in a customized costume made by her mom and was whisked downtown in a limousine to meet Spider-Man. At City Hall, Mayor Don Iveson gave her a set of web slingers, and told her: “Now go save the city.”
“OK!” she said.
Spider-Mable’s popularity took off faster than a speeding bullet, as people connected with the feel-good story and the pint-sized superhero.
Stephen Harper, Justin Trudeau and Thomas Mulcair found rare common ground and all tweeted to Mable, as did director Kevin Smith and The Knick actor Eric Johnson. Marvel Comics’ official Spider-Man account posted a tweet which read, “Go Spider-Mable! We believe in you!”
On the street, people honked and cheered, and increasingly large crowds gathered as Mable went to the police station, back to City Hall, then to West Edmonton Mall, usually holding tight to Spider-Man’s hand.
She said he is her favourite superhero because he’s smart.
“He’s really cool, too,” she said. “And a good crimefighter.”
She described her own crime-fighting strategy as, “One bad guy at a time.”
Monica Cormier said she started following the Spider-Mable story on social media, then decided to go to West Edmonton Mall to cheer Mable on in person.
“It’s just amazing,” she said. “I like how the whole city as a whole came together as a community. You have to support when that happens. It makes you want to be a part of it.”
Cormier said she was also inspired by the personality of Spider-Mable.
“Seeing her smile makes you think about how you deal with your own problems,” she said.
Mable slipped into her superhero role as easily as putting on a cape, appearing fearless and unflappable as she faced throngs of media and the cheering public throughout the day.
She did several small press conferences with the ease of a politician, and didn’t balk when she rode the zip line and navigated the Ropes Quest at West Edmonton Mall.
Asked by a reporter how scared she was to be hunting down a villain, she said, “Not very scared.”
“We haven’t found anything that intimidates her yet,” her father said.
The day culminated at the Valley Zoo, where Mable saved the Oilers captain from villain Mysterio.
She delivered Mysterio to a waiting police truck. Then she posed for photos with Ference and Oilers rookie Connor McDavid, and gleefully shot silly string spiderwebs into the air as the crowd called her name.
Neil Tooke said he choked back tears many times throughout the day.
“It’s an opportunity for her to just forget about the hospital, forget about procedures,” her father said. “Just be a kid again.”
An exceptional day, that, in a strange way, helped turn Mable Tooke back into a regular girl.
We hope to share her story with your support.
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