BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) —Mark Mendola is on a mission to spread smiles to children who are seriously ill.
"I want to help entertain children, visit hospitals, doing charity events, doing fundraisers," said Mendola, founder and president of WNY Superheroes and Cosplayers.
He was inspired to help after his late sister, Dawn, battled cancer in the 1980s.
"We love the Sabres and her favorite was Gilbert Perreault. Gil had just visited her at the hospital. Now, she just came from the hospital and when she saw him, her eyes lit up and she was so happy," Mendola said.
Mendola's sister died in 1985, but it was the joy in Dawn's eyes he remembers.
"It's a way of paying back the kindness that Gil did. He was phenomenal," Mendola stated.
After retiring from the Erie County Sheriff's Office in 2017, the ordained minister and 40-year volunteer firefighter decided this was his new calling.
He assembled a group of other heroes who dress up and visit children in Western New York.
"It's great to see the smiles on kids' faces. Even at Rosewell, we get requests to go to the adult wing. We went and visited the adults. It's all about the smiles, the children and the charities," Mendola said.
This story was originally reported wkbw.com.