A small town has united in support of an autistic man at risk of losing his pricey apartment, raising enough money to keep him in his home.
Jonathan Charbonneau, a 52-year-old man living with Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism, is a local celebrity in his hometown of Glen Ellyn, Ill., where he’s lived since 1992, according to Chicago’s Daily Herald.
Aside from his contributions to keeping the streets clean and crime-free, Charbonneau is famous for his Superman costume, which he wears each year in the local Fourth of July parade. “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,” Charbonneau told the Daily Herald.
In September, an owner bought Charbonneau’s apartment building, and his rent was increased from $455 to $800 per month. Concerned about the stress it would cause Charbonneau, who strives to maintain a consistent routine, his longtime friend Julie Spiller created a GoFundMe page.
Spiller, whom Yahoo Lifestyle could not reach for comment, explained on GoFundMe that her initial fundraising goal was $4,500 — enough to cover the 75 percent rent spike for one year. However, in 11 days, donations exceeded $37,000. “Yesterday we agreed to sign a month-to-month lease at the $800 (75% rent increase) for a max of 6 months, with utilities paid by the landlord, and the ability to leave at any time with a thirty-day notice,” Spiller wrote on GoFundMe, adding that she’s apartment hunting for a permanent home for Charbonneau.
“Jonathan is very receptive to all of this, in fact, I would say he has been ‘giddy’ with everything going on,” wrote Spiller. “He feels the love, he feels important, he feels worthy, and mostly, he feels protected like he does for us as Superman.” Yahoo Lifestyle could not reach Charbonneau for comment.
Charbonneau’s neighbors cheered for their Superman and exchanged stories about the long-time resident.
“Superman’s good deeds extend year round… many years ago, he protected my grandson from huge icicles on the awnings downtown!” wrote a GoFundMe commenter.
“My children remember him from every parade, swimming at Sun Set pool and just a wonderful role model for mentally challenged children!” someone else posted.
“My band was playing at Curley’s on night in [Glen Ellyn] and Superman came in, broke out a flute and played a few songs with us! What a nice guy, super talented and a [Glen Ellyn] LEGEND!”
Charbonneau told the Daily Herald that he’ll thank the community during the next Fourth of July parade. “I’m going to make an announcement over the PA of thanks for each and every person who helped me in whatever way they have.”
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