For the last decade, Greg Adler -- a former criminal prosecutor -- has become a master transformer in more ways than one, shifting his focus from fighting court battles to helping sick children fight the blues. Although still a corporate attorney by day, the Dallas-based Adler routinely visits local children’s hospitals dressed as the popular Transformers character “Bumblebee” in elaborate, contest-winning costumes that he builds himself.
And like other superheroes, Adler uses state-of-the-art technology to enhance his capabilities.
A couple of years ago while serving as General Counsel for a staffing company that worked with Suitable Technologies, Adler discovered Beam. Immediately he recognized that telepresence technology would allow kids that are too sick to leave their beds -- such as bone marrow transplant recipients with compromised immune systems or cancer patients who are simply too exhausted from chemotherapy -- the opportunity to visit with Bumblebee in the lobby of the hospital.
After contacting Suitable, Adler put his plan to utilize Beam at hospital visits into action. It turned out to be the perfect solution, as a typical visit includes about an hour greeting kids and their families in a common area, and a second hour making hospital room visits. Those patients that are unable to meet Bumblebee in “person” can Beam in to where he’s visiting others to join the excitement.
Laughs and Smiles
Reactions to Bumblebee run the gamut -- Adler says that it ranges from busting up laughing with joy, to stares of disbelief and for the sickest children, perhaps a crack of a smile. Still, he says, “To me, that is huge victory. I know I can’t fix them, but I can help them forget their troubles for a little while. I figure that has to be worth something, right?”
Not only does Bumblebee cheer up the patients, he also helps parents and siblings. Adler recounts: “Maybe the nicest thing anyone ever said to me was when the mother of a little boy with cancer told me, ‘Thank you for doing this. I hadn’t seen my son smile in months.’”
Thanks to Beam, Bumblebee’s visits can be dynamic and action oriented. For example, last Halloween Adler connected with a little girl who couldn’t come out of her room. There was a carnival for the kids that day, so she Beamed in and Bumblebee escorted her from game to game. She got to choose what she wanted to do, “playing” the games with Bumblebee.
For Adler, the most gratifying part of being able to visit with sick children is taken right out of the Transformers playbook. In the movies, Bumblebee started off as a guardian, but ended up as a friend who interacts with his human counterparts with kindness and humor. Adler points to this scene in Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon, where Bumblebee is leaving Earth, and he says goodbye to his friend Sam:
Even after a short two-hour visit, Adler says his greatest wish is to give the children he visits that same kind of assurance that everyone is doing everything they can to get them back to being healthy and happy -- the way they were before they got sick.
And he also wants them to know that even though Bumblebee has to leave, he will always care about them.
Like that poignant farewell in Transformers, Adler has come up with his own way to say goodbye at the end of a visit. He always says, “Feel better, okay?”
And he always gets an “okay” back.
Adler’s secret weapon is generosity, kindness and compassion, and it makes us Beam just thinking about all the kids whose Halloweens he’s saved, and whose lives he’s made better.
“We’re gonna do whatever we can.” ~ Bumblebee in Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon