By Adrienne Brown July 30, 2012
RED RIVER ARMY DEPOT, Texas -- He can't fly, crush steel with his bare hands or jump over buildings in leaps and bounds but in the eyes of some Red River Army Depot employees he's the best superhero around. His name is Captain Hydrate. His purpose -- to make sure employees are drinking enough water throughout the day.
With temperatures remaining around 100 degrees each day, employees in the RRAD maintenance facilities are reminded to take adequate breaks to drink water. One maintenance area has its own hydration hero: Captain Hydrate. The superhero randomly appears to employees in his area dressed in a bright colored shirt, shorts to match, a cape and a shiny mask that has the illusion of water running from the top of it. Just like any other superhero his identity to the general population of the depot remains a mystery. Even during an interview with Captain Hydrate he asked that his real name be kept from the spotlight.
"I'm not doing this to get any kind of recognition," he said. "I'm only doing it to make a difference."
Captain Hydrate wasn't a directive of the Safety office or any depot leader. The superhero was created by the employee who portrays him.
"My brother and I were helping my parents clean up after my three autistic nephews one day," he said. "I told him I've done so much on safety at work already, but I've got to come up with something hot that will catch their attention."
Captain Hydrate says just about that time he picked up a broken toy mask.
"I told my brother that's what Red River needs -- a superhero," he said.
A few weeks later, while cleaning up after his parent's water heater busted, the employee found a piece of the water heater that sparked the name for this superhero.
"Nobody knew what I was going to do, but I wanted to do something to lift morale and bring more safety awareness to our cost center," he said.
The next day in the middle of that cost center's safety meeting, the hero asked the employees to give him a quick minute. He then changed into his Captain Hydrate gear.
"I gave them a show and they loved it," he said.
It wasn't long until the Safety office heard about Captain Hydrate and began taking him on weekly safety walks.
"I've been on two tours so far and was able to hand out bottles of water provided by a group of individuals," said the hydration hero. "I honestly never expected it to go as far as it has gone. Like I said before, I was just doing something to lift morale and make a difference."
The hero has definitely made a difference.
"He just makes everyone feel better," said Steven Gibson, safety representative. "For someone to take it upon himself to do this with no one asking him is phenomenal."
On top of the smiles from the employees, the area Captain Hydrate works in has also experienced a decrease in the number of people suffering from heat related injuries.
"Last year there were four or five heat related injuries in our building," said Captain Hydrate. "As far as I know this year we haven't had one."
Employees in the area even ask for Captain Hydrate to talk with individuals who steered clear of drinking water at all.
"One day an employee asked me to talk to a guy who was only drinking cokes. I sat there with the gentleman and talked to him until he finished a bottle of water."
When asked why he continues to dress up and make appearances the hydration hero's answer is clear.
"I care about people and I like to see them happy," he said. "Everyone in this world has problems. I don't mind being the brunt of a joke and make people look at me and think what is that idiot doing? If there's one thing I want people to know from me doing this it would be that no matter what circumstance you're in, be greater than yourself."
So what's next for Captain Hydrate? What will he do during the winter months?
"I'm working on it," said the superhero as he laughed. "Stay hydrated, my friends."