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1,000 Superheroes Surprise Children at Indiana Hospital: 'There Were a Lot of Smiles and Tears of Joy'

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Riley Children's Hospital

Patients at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis, Indiana, got a big surprise Tuesday – a visit from 1,000 superheroes.

The superheroes, all employees of wireless retailer TCC, came from 37 states to join in the “Rally for Riley,” a celebration that included the donation of a check for $1 million dollars and the largest group hug in the hospital’s history.

TCC CEO Scott Moorehead presents a donation check to Riley patients
Riley Children's Hospital
“We knew that the kids at Riley love superheroes because even the hospital’s window washers dress up as them,” Ryan McCarty, director of customer and employee engagement for TCC tells PEOPLE. “So we thought, ‘If we’re going to have 1,000 of our employees to descend on this hospital, why not have all of us dress up?’ ”

The employees gathered to celebrate the donation that will fund a rain forest-themed art and activity room and help the hospital provide treatment to children whose families cannot afford it.

TCC employees with a Riley patient
Riley Children's Hospital
“The room will be a merging of rain forest and technology,” McCarty says. “There’ll be a rock climbing wall, a touch screen table where the kids can watch videos and do homework, as well as some interactive pieces on the floor.”

“We want to create a space where the patients can be kids, not feel like sick kids, but kids with imagination,” he adds.

While the rain forest room won’t be completed until after Halloween, the volunteers are able to make patients smile much sooner than that.

“The kids were amazed,” McCarty says. “We had one little boy celebrating his birthday and he is infatuated with Batman, when we found that out we searched for the best-looking batman to go up and talk to him. There were a lot of smiles and a lot of tears of joy.”

A patient celebrates his birthday with a visit from Batman
Riley Children's Hospital
At the end of the day, the superheroes, doctors, staff and patients came together to join hands and “hug” the hospital.

“It was just a really emotional moment because it signified our love for the kids and the doctors,” McCarty says. “We went there dressed up as superheroes but we know the real superheroes are the kids.”