The latest child-come-superhero to make a name on the streets of California is a 10-year-old Vallejo girl who was diagnosed with leukemia in April.
Monika Roma was surprised Thursday morning by a crowd outside of her house. She was whisked off to a ceremony on the steps of the Vallejo City Hall, where she was greeted by Santa Claus and local dignitaries and made Wonder Girl for the day.
A police escort took her to her elementary school, where students had dressed up in their own superhero costumes and waved signs in greeting, according to KGO-TV. They even did a flash mob dance for the fifth-grader, who was overwhelmed by the community’s support.
“I couldn’t believe it,” she said.
Wonder Girl’s experience seemed familiar to many because it comes only a month after San Francisco turned into Gotham City for the day for a 5-year-old boy with leukemia.
Thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Batkid spent the day rescuing San Franciscans in distress and fighting crime.
Where Batkid and Wonder Girl’s paths diverged, though, was how they each wanted to spend their day. Batkid had always dreamed of fighting crime. Wonder Girl dreams of becoming a teacher.
Monika, the only child cancer patient in all of Vallejo, was granted her wish — at least for a day — by the nonprofit group Vallejo Together.
“We asked if she needed a Disney princess theme or something,” Maria Guevara, founder of Vallejo Together, told KGO. “But she doesn’t like Disney princesses, she likes Wonder Girl. So we were like, oh my gosh perfect setting, we’re going to do Batkid-style Wonder Girl in Vallejo.”
The group asked Monika to write an essay about how Vallejo could rid itself of evil. It got a good start on Thursday, as the city united around a young girl with a spirit her sickness can’t diminish.
Monika traveled to spots around the city to deliver a message about standing up for good and ridding the city of hate. And for the residents in attendance, it was a message of hope they could unite around.
“It’s just the innocence of it,” Valery Asenjo, a five-year resident, told the Vallejo Times-Herald. “It’s about the struggles people have to overcome no matter at what age. It’s a triumph of spirit, especially at Christmas.”
Monika’s cancer is in remission, but she’s still going through chemotherapy treatments. Getting to share her message of kindness with the city won’t end her pain, she knows, but it gives her hope. She quoted a line from a Beatles song, “Let it Be.”
“ ‘When you find yourself in times of trouble, mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom, let it be.’ That first part speaks to me,” she said. “ ‘And in the hour of darkness, she is standing right in front of me, speaking words of wisdom, let it be.’ The second part speaks to Vallejo.”