SACRAMENTO, Calif. — It was an action-packed evening for a Northern California girl and her favorite superhero, Spider-Man.
Shriners Hospitals for Children patient Abigail Westlund received the star treatment on the red carpet at the premiere of “Spider-Man: Homecoming” in downtown Sacramento.
“He’s my favorite,” she told CBS Sacramento.
“You’re my favorite too,” Tony Marsella, the man behind the Spider-Man mask, responded. “I’m so happy that she’s able to come here and not in the hospital.”
He may not shoot real webs and fly, but to 9-year-old Westlund, he’s the real deal.
Westlund has congenital scoliosis, according to her mother, Sandra. She met Marsella after receiving her second surgery during a visit at the hospital. Since then, Westlund has undergone 12 surgeries.
When the call came from Marsella asking Westlund to be his guest star at movie premiere it meant the world to her.
“When she found out about this, she literally bounced off the walls saying, ‘I’m webbing Mom, I’m webbing my way to bed,'” Sandra laughed.
For Marsella, the feeling is mutual.
“It’s such a great feeling, and I’m so grateful,” he said.
That’s because he’s also been where Westlund has.
“I was going through an illness for about four years, and it really opened my eyes,” he said.
At age 15, Marsella had undiagnosable auto-immune issues. He eventually regained his health and is now a student at William Jessup University. He’s vowed to continue to make a difference.
“It’s really encouraging meeting people like Abigail that even though they’re going through these things they have so much passion and happiness, that it actually makes me happy to come see you,” he said.
And he is certainly making a difference.
While the pair may have met under unusual circumstances, they say they’ll be forever friends and use superhero strength to fight off their villains.