CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- With proton packs, uniforms and pulling up in an Ecto-1, the Ghostbusters of North Carolina are the real deal.
"It's just four guys who came together and saved the world," Ghostbuster Barrie J. Clark said. "It just means if you're an average individual, you don't have a red cape and you can't fly and burn concrete with laser eyes, you can make a difference."
The difference they are making is obvious. Rather than capturing ghosts, they are destroying negative energy for those who are most in need of positive vibes.
The self-described Ghostbuster “family” travels by Ecto-1 to various hospitals across the Tar Heel state to bring their upbeat act to ill children.
"When you go as a family to a hospital and you visit other kids with their families, there's an enormous bond between us and them," Clark said.
Ghostbuster Christopher B. Greer describes entering a child’s hospital room like Christmas morning.
“It’s almost like getting that toy you always wanted on Christmas,” Greer said. “You get that expression like, ‘Oh my gosh… It’s the Ghostbusters! They’re here!’”
“I truly believe for that split moment that we’re in there they feel no pain,” said Joshua Gray. “And if you see [the Ecto-1] driving down the road people are going crazy. It’s an instant relief and it brings you happiness.”
But the Ghostbusters aren’t just providing happiness to children. Parents beam seeing their sick kids enjoy themselves. Even in the hospital parking lot, bystanders gather around the men and their Ecto-1 asking for photos.
“The most wonderful thing that I’ve been aware of is it doesn’t matter what color you are, it doesn’t matter what your religious beliefs are, where you come from, everyone seems to love Ghostbusters,” Clark said. “It’s a really, really wonderful universal equalizer.”
The Ghostbusters of North Carolina group began two years ago when Kevin LaRue moved to the Charlotte area and began chatting with a neighbor about his favorite film.
"We began talking about starting a Ghostbuster group," LaRue said. "Just to try to bring some fun and joy and smiles to kids and improve our community in the midst of all the crap that's going on."
The two went for it, recruiting fellow Ghostbuster fans through social media. The group is now spread out across the Tar Heel state and has about 30 members.
"I wanted to see what it was about, what it'd be like actually being in this group and going into communities, spreading the cheer and bringing out the positivity," Greer said. "Once I went to the first meeting I was like I'm here. This is home to me."
Clark was ready to join the group before he even knew it was there. As a huge Ghostbuster fan, he had made a proton pack, uniform and transformed his car into Ecto-1. So when he found the group he refers to as his "family," it was a match made in Ghostbuster heaven.
“I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my life and this is part of giving something back,” Greer said. “There are kids that are so sick and their parents don’t even know how to express how much they love us being there because their kids are having a good time and that’s part of resetting your breaker on life… It makes you go like, ‘We did something good today. We touched people in a way that few can,’ and it helps me get out of bed the next day.”