Vivacious and always offering a smile, you might not know that mild-mannered Susan Stocks has a secret identity not entirely unlike Batman (though not the campy Adam West Batman) or Wonder Woman. Luckily, though, Susan doesn’t wear a cowl, patriotic unitard or speak in an exaggerated, gravelly voice (that we know of, anyway). And her heroic alter-ego doesn’t have a dark past, or any superhuman strength. Though it’s pretty clear she has a superhuman heart. But first, let’s dig a little into the background, shall we?
Susan Stocks, like any hero, began her life as a baby. She was born on Father’s Day. She grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina, the daughter of an Economics professor (Dad) and a high school Spanish teacher (Mom). Susan has an older brother as well. It was a middle-class family, a slice of the good ol’ fashioned American dream. Susan grew up loving summer camp, babysitting and nannying; she even met her sweetheart and now hubby Don in her camp days when she was only 11. But, Susan Stocks’ superhero-origin moment struck when she was in the 6th grade. A prosecutor visited her class as a guest speaker, and Susan learned that a lot of kids weren’t growing up the way she was... It was that day that she dedicated her future to helping children.
As all superheroes must, Susan honed her skills with practice. Consider this the training montage portion. For a soundtrack, let’s go with the obvious and use Survivor’s 1982 hit “Eye of the Tiger.” Susan was teaching high school Spanish in Durham, NC when she inspired her students to participate in Angel Tree Children for Christmas, a gift sponsoring program for kids in need. (This is what we call foreshadowing. :) ) And after that, Susan started Bridges Summer Camp to serve a North Carolina county's most at-risk population. Bridges Summer Camp hosted 12 children, each of whom was a child of an addict. Susan even rallied community members and businesses to kick in supplies and food. (And she wrote and won a state grant to keep Bridges going!) From there, Susan enrolled in Law School. But the story doesn’t end there.
In 2008, Susan Stocks, working as a staff attorney with the Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center here in Denver, was representing the children in a variety of abuse and neglect cases. (Her Latin legal title, guardian ad litem, fits her heroism perfectly. Don’tcha think?) She was already championing for the little guy, and kids, well, they are usually the littlest guys (and gals) there are. But, Susan, who could have just continued to work with those kids reaping a lot of praise from friends, colleagues, family and community chose to do more. (No one would blame her for having JUST a career with a positive social impact, right?) The kids she worked with were often in foster care or other situations where happy holidays didn’t always mean gifts and merriment. Having happy holidays could just mean that the heat and the lights stayed on.
So, Susan Stocks, a sweet belle from North Carolina, saw the dark side of the law. She saw that there were cracks in the system that she could fix. She knew that a little joy would go a long way. And she knew that if anyone was going to save the holidays for these kids, it would have to be her. Susan never went vigilante, but she did grab her utility belt, contact friends, community restaurants and leaders, and she made the holidays possible and bright for 24 kids that year. And she did it again in 2009, donning her cape once more to get gifts for 35 more kids. And again in 2010 for 44. And in 2011, she suited up again, set to save the holidays for 60+ kids.
Susan’s superpowers include an infectious smile, a razor wit, and that GIANT heart I mentioned earlier. Her weapon is Brunch With A Purpose, where she brings together a veritable Justice League of Good Spirit, to get gifts for the kids, wrap them, and celebrate giving back. And while she doesn’t have a spandex costume to wear while she PUNCHES OUT potential holiday unhappiness and KICKS up the joy quotient each year, she is a pretty snappy dresser. And with the help of her husband Don and their three adorable pooches, she is a superhero, watching over the Denver skyline, silhouetted by moonlight, ready to leap into action at a moment’s notice to provide the enchantment that’s implied in every child’s Christmas List.
Susan returned to North Carolina in 2015, but her community legacy here in Denver is not forgotten.