Superhero, a descriptive USA trademark co-owned by DC Comics and Marvel Comics, is defined as a type of hero or savior possessing extraordinary talents and dedicated to protecting the public.

In recent days, we've seen some of them in action. Last week in southwestern Pennsylvania, two men helped keep a robbery suspect from escaping. Matthew Smith, a heroin addict looking for money, tried to rob Rich's Trading Post in Greene County. Store owner Rich Rosendale, 68, was beaten after being tied up with electrical and duct tape.

Eric Smith and Tom Christopher were working at a nearby business when they heard the commotion and tried to stop the suspect outside the store. He managed to run a distance before being caught and tackled by Smith in a nearby field.

In another story out of Dallas, Texas, Tori Phillips became a superhero when he helped a family struggling to escape a large fire at their apartment complex. Phillips, who lives in the complex, rushed to the scene and saw the adults were scared to come down with their baby. He convinced them to drop the child so they could jump down to safety.

Appropriately, he was wearing a Superman sweatshirt when he caught the child.

Even a homeless person can become superhero. Billy Ray Harris, 55, was panhandling for donations on a street in Kansas City, Missouri a few months ago when a passer-by named Sarah Darling unknowingly dropped her engagement ring in his cup. Harris didn't discover it until he packed up for the day.

Harris first took it to a local jeweler, who offered him $4,000 on the spot. Instead of taking the money, he decided to hold onto the ring and wait to see if someone returned to claim it. A couple days later, Darling did.

Harris told reporters he was raised to be honest.

The story went global; and after seeing Harris' face in the news his sister, Robin Harris Williams, who lived 490 miles away in Texas, was able to track him down. She also alerted the rest of Harris' family who he had not seen since the 1990s.

Harris admits he was on the verge of giving up the search for his family before his sister found him after seeing the news story about his good deed.

Darling and her husband, meanwhile, set up a donation fund to help Harris. She was hoping for $4,000 - the amount he was offered by the jeweler. But the public response was overwhelming and that target was easily surpassed as over 8,000 people donated more than $183,000.

Thanks to applying that lesson he learned as a child about honesty, Harris is now off the streets, has a part-time job, new friends and was recently united with the family he had been trying to locate for years.

By Jim Zbick

editor@tnonline.com