Erica Burg was leafing through her daughter’s Guinness Book of World Records, a one-time Christmas present, when the record for most people gathered in costume as superheroes caught her eye.
“Basically, you have to stay in one location for 10 minutes is how that record works,” she said.
DreamWorks Animation holds the current record, for a promotion it did in 2010 for the megahit movie Megamind. To break the previous record, the studio gathered about 1,600 costumed people in the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
While that might seem like a hard number to top, Burg already has the perfect potentially record-breaking event lined up.
On April 28, the Pittsburgh branch of the Texas-based Superhero Foundation will sponsor its fourth annual 5K run/walk at North Park in Allison Park. Participants —and that includes the family dog—are invited to wear their favorite superhero costumes to the event.
Burg, of Cranberry, is Chief Operating Superhero of the Pittsburgh chapter of the nonprofit, which is dedicated to raising awareness about child abuse and providing help for abused children. Members of the nonprofit believe the young victims need a superhero, which is why participants dress as Superman, Spiderman and other good guys at events.
Proceeds from the event will benefit Court Appointed Special Advocates of Allegheny County. CASA volunteers help abused children through the court system, being their eyes and ears as well as a friend, Burg said.
About 525 people attended last year’s event, which raised $30,000 for CASA. To break the world record, the Pittsburgh Superhero Foundation will need more than double that amount of participants at the spring event.
While she’d like to break the record, Burg—who plans to don a Superwoman costume—said her main goal is to raise awareness of child abuse. She noted the Jerry Sandusky scandal—the former Penn State coach was charged in November with more than 40 counts of sexually abusing young boys—brought renewed attention to the cause, and she doesn’t want it to fade from the public’s mind.
“I think a lot of people were donating money when that first happened, and we want to make it known that [the problem of abuse] doesn’t go away,” she said. “For the kids, it’s always there.”
A mother of two, Burg became involved with the Superhero Foundation after Matt Curtin, a former coworker, started the nonprofit in Austin, TX. About the same time, Burg found out a young cousin in her family had been abused.
“It was very coincidental,” she said. “Before any of that happened, I hadn’t known anybody in that situation.”
Since founding the Pittsburgh branch, Burg said people began “coming out” to her and telling her about their experiences with abuse.
“You don’t realize how many people are impacted by it,” she said. “I’ve known some people for a long time and had no idea it impacted their lives. There are so many people that are touched by it.”