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Town Rallies Around Local “Superman” With Autism When Unfair Landlord Skyrockets Rent.

Even the “man of steel” needs a little bit of help from his friends now and again.

Every year the town of Glen Ellyn, Illinois holds their annual Fourth of July parade. In the midst of the fire trucks, marching bands, baton-twirlers, and candy-tossers, one local man has become a fixture in the small town. His name is Jonathan Charbonneau, but everybody in Glen Ellyn knows him simply as Superman.


Jonathan has dressed up as Superman for the parade for the past 26 years, delighting townspeople with his friendly grin and fun-loving personality. Jonathan has Asperger’s syndrome and is on the autism spectrum, but he lives independently and works a full time job. He says he has always related to Superman for his devotion to helping others.

“He always has and will always be my favorite superhero because I believe in the ideals that he represents, and there are a number of moral lessons that can be learned from him,” Jonathan explained.

Everyone in town knows and likes Jonathan, and they admire the way that he works hard to give back to his community in small but meaningful ways. Jonathan holds a black belt in karate and can always be counted on to offer physical protection whenever necessary. He also helps area businesses keep their sidewalks clear and neat, and he once stopped a thief who tried to make off with a chair from a furniture sale.


One day Jonathan came home to find a startling note from the landlord. He’s lived alone in his small apartment for almost 30 years, so he was shocked and frightened to find that his rent was increasing 75%, from $455 a month to $800.

Jonathan immediately went to his friend Julie Spiller, who understands how upsetting a change in routine can be for someone on the spectrum. Julie decided to appeal to their community to raise some money to help pay the difference in Jonathan’s rent for a year, just to give him some breathing room. She opened a GoFundMe and hoped to raise the modest sum of $4,500.

When neighbors found out that their Superman needed help, they opened their wallets and donated almost $40,000!

A local special needs attorney stepped in to help manage the unexpected windfall, and they managed to negotiate a better rental agreement for Jonathan too. The attorney is now working to set up a financial safety net for Jonathan

“Jonathan is very receptive to all of this,”Julie wrote. “In, fact I would say he has been ‘giddy’ with everything going on. He feels the love, he feels important, he feels worthy, and mostly, he feels protected like he does for us as Superman.â€

“The financial support is shocking and a dream for Jonathan,”she wrote on the GoFundMe page. “More important is all of the love he is feeling, and the personal notes you have shared in support. I will be printing each and every note and making them into a book for Jonathan to cherish.â€


As the donations continue to pour in, it’s clear that Jonathan has left his mark on the people of his community. He may have only set out to entertain people on July 4th, but now he’s a treasured part of the very fabric of his town. Now maybe he can see how many lives he’s touched — both in the Superman costume and out.

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