St. Ann Center’s own team of superheroes are used to saving the day without a lot a fanfare. But Thursday, Nov. 7, was different. Six of the center’s adult day care clients, ages 22 to 70, were celebrated at a gala book launch, held at the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, for their new publication, “The Adventures of The Righteous League.”
Over the past 18 months, this group has created superhero alter egos while participating in TimeSlips sessions, a program that uses imagination and storytelling to enhance people’s lives. Naming themselves The Righteous League, they spend their day at St. Ann Center’s Stein Campus which serves children, frail elders and adults with physical and cognitive disabilities. They meet weekly with TimeSlips Master Trainer Elaine Maly.
“It all began with one simple question,” Maly said. “If you could have a superpower, what would it be? From there, they came up with their original characters, costumes, archenemies and the most incredible adventures.”
There’s Super Jake (Jacob Lukowski), a brilliant billionaire with lightning speed; Energy Man (Marcus Semenske), who uses his supercharged personality to help others get work done and Party Animal (Christine Biersack), who instantly turns a boring day into a fun one. Super Jesus (John Krall) uses the power of prayer to help people make good choices; Super Reader (Diane Gundlach) reads aloud to keep people calm, and G-Man (Gabriel Rodriguez) protects the city from evil using his powers of invisibility and healing.
Impressed by the group’s creativity, Maly decided their heroic adventures were the makings of a book. Milwaukee artist Daisy Gertel began sitting in on the storytelling sessions and getting to know the super heroes and the people behind them. Over this past summer, The Righteous League’s stories were put into book form, featuring Gertel’s illustrations and the original artwork of some of the clients.
The book launch featured a display of Gertel’s comic-style posters made with black ink, gouache and gold foil on paper. The posters will become a traveling exhibit in the months ahead. The Righteous League members took turns telling the audience about their heroic alter egos and read selections from the 118-page book. A book signing by the authors followed.
“From the start, they decided they needed to be a team, because they would be more powerful working together,” Maly said. In one of the chapters, she pointed out, “Super Jake invents robotic remote controlled legs for G-man, Party Animal and Super Jesus.” These three Righteous League authors use wheelchairs in real life.
That’s a perfect example of a superpower all of these heroes share—true compassion.