Editorial: 'Superman' fans boost hope in humanity

  • Jonathan Charbonneau has been a presence in the Glen Ellyn Fourth of July parade since 1992.

    Jonathan Charbonneau has been a presence in the Glen Ellyn Fourth of July parade since 1992. Courtesy of Julie Spiller

The Daily Herald Editorial Board
Posted11/1/2018 3:15 PM

"It gives you hope in humanity again."

That's Glen Ellyn business owner Julie Spiller talking about her town's generosity toward a resident in need, and in these divisive and angry times, comments like hers resonate more than ever.


Glen Ellyn's outpouring of support for Jonathan Charbonneau epitomizes what we've always considered to be the suburbs' key strength: the neighborliness, caring and assistance for those among us who are struggling.

We've mentioned that lovely attribute before, and we are even more grateful for it now, when personal connections and decency can be a bulwark against too-frequent stories of heartless behavior.

Charbonneau is the longtime Glen Ellyn resident who dresses as Superman at local parades, works at a medical office, befriends neighbors, tidies up his downtown neighborhood by picking up litter, and once foiled a thief at a sidewalk sale.

When rent on his apartment above the former hardware store rose from $455 a month to $800 after the building was sold, Spiller set up an online account to benefit Charbonneau, who has Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism.

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Goodwill bloomed, and the fund rose to $35,000 within days to cover rent and build a nest egg for Charbonneau's future.

While we're on the topic of hope for humanity, Charbonneau offers some insights of his own. Explaining his emulation of the Man of Steel, he says Superman "always has and will always be my favorite superhero, because I believe in the ideals that he represents, and there are a number of moral lessons that can be learned from him."

Charbonneau's story captured us, but there's never been a shortage of good deeds around here, including these in the past week:

A group of Maine South High School hockey players on the way home from practice noticed a small fire taking hold just outside a Park Ridge house, alerted the homeowners, called the fire department and helped extinguish it.

• Friends and community members chipped in to help fund a bucket list of sights and experiences for a West Chicago teenager who's losing his vision to a rare disorder.

It's worthwhile to take note of such examples and retell the stories at times when our fundamental belief in the decency of everyday people needs a tiny boost.

Hope in humanity, indeed.

Thanks to "Superman" and his friends for helping us keep the faith.

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