SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — It was an action-packed evening for a special Northern California girl and her superhero.
“He’s my favorite!” she said.
“You’re my favorite too,” Spider-Man said back.
It’s a friendship forged in a most unusual place: Shriners Children Hospital.
“I’m so happy that she’s able to come here and not in the hospital,” said Tony Marsella, the man behind the mask.
He may not shoot real webs and fly, but to 9-year-old patient Abigail Westlund, he’s the real deal.
The two met after Abagail’s second surgery when he was visiting Shriners. Abigail’s mom, Sandra Westlund was impressed by Marsella’s memory.
“‘I remember your daughter Abigail loves Spider-Man,’ and I was really amazed at that because he sees so many kids,” said her mother, Sandra Westlund. “She has congenital scoliosis, and she had quite a severe curve.”
Since then she’s undergone 12 surgeries.
“We are just so happy to see improvements,” she said.
That’s why when the call came from Marsella asking Abigail to be his guest star at “Spider-Man: Homecoming” meant the world.
“When she found out about this, she literally bounced off the walls, ‘I’m webbing mom, I’m webbing my way to bed,'” she 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 been where Abby has too.
“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 make a difference.
“It’s really encouraging meeting people like Abigail that even though they’re going through these things and have so much passion and happiness, that it actually makes me happy to come see you,” he said.
“Aww,” Abigail smiled back.
And he is certainly making a difference.
While they may have met under unusual circumstances, the two say they’ll be forever friends and use superhero strength to fight off their villains.