‘Supergirl’ cheers up kids at Children’s Mercy

02/04/2014 2:20 PM

02/04/2014 2:20 PM

She can’t fly. She doesn’t have heat vision. She has no clue if she’s resistant to Kryptonite.

But to children around Kansas City, Jessica Meditz-Porter is a real superhero.

Donning a bright blue, red, and yellow Supergirl costume, complete with cape, the friendly 32-year-old manages to get even the crankiest kid to crack a smile, whether it’s taking pictures with devoted fans at the Kansas City Comicon or volunteering at Children’s Mercy Hospital.

It all started on a whim.

Growing up, the Overland Park native never paid much attention to comic books. When the personal trainer met her future husband, however, that changed.

A self-proclaimed comic book nerd, he asked her to pick up his favorite reads from Elite Comics on Wednesdays, while he was away at graduate school in 2007.

Impressed by her good looks and outgoing personality, the owner of the store asked if Porter would be interested in dressing up as a superhero for the store’s booth at the Kansas City Comicon. Without hesitation, she said yes.

She commissioned a Supergirl costume and much to her husband’s delight, read a huge stack of Supergirl comics, eager to learn as much as she could about the character she had chosen.

“Supergirl gets her powers from the sun and I find that warmth to be energizing,” Porter said. “She’s a strong female character who connects with a younger crowd. That was important to me.”

A couple years later, Porter was on a local radio show discussing her work as a personal trainer and how she dresses up as Supergirl for the comic book convention. She casually mentioned that her dream was to volunteer at Children’s Mercy in character. Minutes later, a hospital employee called the show and the wheels were put into motion.

For the past four years, the Overland Park mom of 1-year-old Grayson has visited with kids at Children’s Mercy every couple months, telling stories to them, answering questions and doing arts and crafts.

“It breaks my heart to see these kids in the hospital,” Porter said. “For a moment, seeing the smiles on their faces as they forget their troubles, that’s what makes it all worth it.”

Porter has big plans for Supergirl.

Collaborating with her workplace, Midtown Athletic Club, she plans to help create a fun fitness event for kids, encouraging healthy eating and exercise.

She also plans on putting in more appearances at Children’s Mercy and volunteering at Children’s Mercy South and the Ronald McDonald House.

A devoted Sporting Kansas City fan, Porter’s dream is to one day work with the team’s Victory Project organization, which helps local children with cancer.

“It’s not about money or recognition for Jessica, it’s about spending time with kids and making sure they have fun,” said Brad Houx, general manager at Midtown Athletic Club in Overland Park. “When they’re with her, these kids can escape for a little while and be around a superhero. Everyone here just wants to support her as much as we can.”

Porter is humbled by the encouragement she receives.

After all, she said, being Supergirl isn’t about being Supergirl. It’s about making people happy.

“It makes you feel good to know your purpose in life and when you find that one thing you love to do,” she said. “You just have to own it.”

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