Pikesville High School’s Lenny “Batman” Robinson was probably smiling down on the AMF Pikesville Bowling Lanes last Saturday night, where more than $26,000 was raised for the children’s charity program at Sinai Hospital named in his honor.
Hosted by Pikesville’s Class of 1982 reunion, the event honored Robinson, who had dedicated his life to making sick kids happy, but who died tragically in a roadside accident when his homemade Batmobile broke down near Hagerstown on Interstate-70 in August 2015.
More than 100 people attended Saturday’s event, which included Pikesville classmates from 1982, 1983 and 1984 and former students of Fort Garrison Elementary School.
Reunion chairwoman Karen Singer of Lutherville said this is the first time the Class of ’82 has combined a reunion with a fundraiser for the Lenny “Batman” Robinson Hope for Henry program at Sinai Hospital.
“Lenny was a classmate. He had a good personality and a big heart,” she said of Robinson, who was voted 1982’s Most Likely to Succeed.
Robinson, who was 51 when he died, had worked most of his life, starting a commercial cleaning business while still in high school, Singer said. “He was extraordinarily successful and then sold his business,” she said. “And he really dedicated the rest of his life to enriching the lives of children, many of whom were pediatric patients. And he would go into the city school system and bring his Batmobile and inspire people. It wasn’t just a fly-by-night thing.”
Robinson morphed into Batman after having a son who became a Batman fan.
“He went and bought the real deal. A real Batman costume. And he had only one at a time, but he had two Batmobiles,” Singer said.
Robinson began to notice how excited and happy other children were when he wore his Batman attire to parties and events, and he began making regular visits to area hospitals, schools and libraries in 2001. Eventually, he partnered with a Washington, D.C., nonprofit, the Hope for Henry Foundation, which provides activities, entertainment and support for children with cancer and blood diseases. The organization was founded by Laurie Strongin and Allen Goldberg, whose son Henry Strongin Goldberg died at age 7 from complications of Fanconi anemia in 2002.
Singer remembers Robinson as having a “larger-than-life personality” who attacked life with a real “joie de vivre.”
“And doing the work of getting dressed and bringing joy and inspiration was exhausting, because the suit itself was heavy,” Singer said. “He traveled outside of the Baltimore area, he went to Washington, D.C., he went to Frederick. He was all over.”
After Robinson died, his circle of friends who had remained close since high school wanted to do something to honor his legacy.
“They brought the Hope for Henry program to Sinai,” Singer said, citing Todd Foreman as being instrumental in the program’s expansion from Washington, D.C., to Sinai Hospital in Baltimore. “Many of us live in the community where we grew up. We were born at Sinai. Our children were born at Sinai. So you’re supporting an institution that’s right in our backyard.”
“Lenny was a longtime and dear friend to Hope for Henry,” Strongin said in an email. “[I]t just seemed so right to honor his incredible legacy by naming our program in his hometown in his name and do the work that he devoted his life to — serving the sickest children and making their lives just a little bit brighter, one day at a time.”
And so, last Saturday, Pikesville High School’s Class of 1982 “Bowling for Batman” brought together 115 people who bowled and mingled and celebrated Robinson’s life, raising $26,300 for the program that brings smiles and hope to children suffering from serious and life-threatening illnesses.
“We typically celebrate our reunions on the 10s. So we would not have had a 35th reunion,” Singer said. “I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to honor Lenny’s memory and get together. We opened it up to the community. It was a really nice way to honor his memory.”
For more information, or to make a donation, visit hopeforhenry.org/ what-we-do/lenny-robinson.