Salt Lake Comic Con’s FanXperience took place last weekend. The pageantry of the event was unmatched and the guest list was even more so. But the heroes of FanX are not the high-priced celebrities and cosplayers. The true heroes of FanX are the volunteers.
Whether they’re manning the doors or covertly lurking the shadows, volunteers are the lifeblood of this event. Some of them volunteer up to sixteen hours each day at the three-day extravaganza. These special individuals deserve credit for their thankless work, and I’d like to pay my respect to one of them personally.
As I’ve spoken about before, my son Corbin has autism. Crowds and loud noises are difficult for him to process. At the inaugural Salt Lake Comic Con, he melted down before we even made it through the doors. We vowed to “never again” take him to the event.
As is customary, my wife and I were gearing up our cosplay to descend upon the sacred grounds of yet another year at FanX. We had zero plans of taking the kids, however, when Corbin found out that his favorite astronaut Buzz Aldrin was coming, we simply had to oblige.
I knew he was going to have a difficult time, but we also knew he would get through it to see his hero. My plan was to get to the event as soon as the doors opened. I thought, if we could avoid the big crowds he’d do better—I was right. We had some time to kill before Aldrin’s panel, so I took Corbin over to join the other children at the FanX KidCon.
The children were running through a small obstacle course called the Galaxy Training Academy. Corbin really wanted to join the other kids and it was a good place for me to relax. I wasn’t paying close attention after he went in; I was enjoying a nice little break. Parents will totally relate here.
Toward the end, I glanced up to see Corbin struggling with one of the objectives in the course. He needed to strap these tin cans to his feet and walk on a moon-like mat.
His coordination has always been poor and it was getting uncomfortable watching him struggle alone. I got out of my seat to help him, but stopped as I watched a KidCon volunteer take the lead.
She caught his every fall and her patience for him was unmatched. She hadn’t seen me yet, but knew he needed help and stuck with him the entire way through.
I filmed the encounter with tears welling behind my sunglasses. This simple gesture meant the world to Corbin. I know she didn’t just help him because it was her job—she genuinely cared.
After the encounter, I learned her name was Luana. I told her about Corbin and thanked her for being so caring.
As we made our way into the Buzz Aldrin panel, Corbin kept asking to go back to see Luana. Here he was waiting to see his hero, all the while knowing he’d already met one.
During the panel, Buzz Aldrin said something that hit me deep: “When we work together, we can achieve the impossible dream … Don’t ever be afraid to ask for help. You never know where that help will come from.”