A Photographer Turned Kids with Disabilities Into Superheroes—and the Results Are EPIC

These kids deserve a Justice League of their own.

justice leagueCourtesy Josh RossiNot all heroes wear capes, but the costume sure does prove a point. Kids who are dealing with diseases and physical challenges at a young age are some of the greatest heroes. To capture those children’s inner strength, photographer Josh Rossi turned six kids into Justice League superheroes. In their movie-accurate costumes designed by Julie Whiteley, the kids look tough as nail on the movie posters Rossi designed. The photographer’s passion project started after he turned his own daughter into Wonder Woman, and the results from this shoot are equally incredible.


cyborgCourtesy Josh RossiFive-year-old Kayden Kinckle was born with a birth defect that made his internal organs grow outside his belly button. The treatment meant both of his legs would need to be amputated—sort of like Cyborg, who gets his superpowers from robotic prostheses. “After seeing Kayden in person I couldn’t believe how strong he was,” Rossi writes on his blog. “At a young age as he was learning how to walk with prosthetic legs he told his mom he wanted to do it by himself and didn’t want any help.” You can support Kayden by buying a copy of Stepping Out on Faith, his mom’s book about him that helps cover his medical bills.

Wonder Woman

wonder womanCourtesy Josh RossiAt just three years old, Sofie Loftus is fighting a rare skeletal muscle cancer called embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma. She’s always wanted to have long hair but lost her hair during treatment—in fact, she’d gone through radiation therapy just days before the photo shoot. Her eye might have been swollen from the treatment, but she looks absolutely fierce in her Wonder Woman movie poster. You can donate to Sofie and her baby brother (who needs surgery for GI issues) on their GoFundMe page.


supermanCourtesy Josh RossiTeagan Pettit, 9, was born with a birth defect that left half his heart missing. (If you’re pregnant, here’s everything you need to know about congenital heart defects.) Three open heart surgeries later, he’s still waiting on an organ donor. One of Teagan’s surgeries caused a rare complication called Plastic Bronchitis that causes rubbery casts to block his airways and makes it hard to breathe. “Teagan’s condition could fail any day because of his heart but he keeps moving forward,” writes Rossi. “Superman and Teagan both have hearts of steel!” Learn more about Teagan on his Facebook page.


aquamanCourtesy Josh RossiMataese Manuma is just two years old, but he’s already a superhero against his rare form of leukemia. (Watch out for these silent signs of leukemia no one should ignore.) He’d been through chemo the day before his photo shoot was scheduled, and ended up going back to the hospital with a fever. But a few days later, he was strong enough to pose as Aquaman with the help of his brother. You can donate to Mataese through his GoFundMe page.

The Flash

the flashCourtesy Josh RossiSeven-year-old Zaiden Stolrow’s severe ADHD means he loves nothing more than to zip around running. But his teachers and classmates can’t keep up with his energy. “Slowly Zaiden’s friends stopped inviting him to events and birthday parties and his mom said [saw] the ‘light leave from his eyes,’” writes Rossi. “This poor boy who needs friends and connection [was] suddenly becoming an outcast.” (We’re willing to bet his family heard some of these things you should never say to the parent of a kid with ADHD.) But the photographer saw the superhero in Zaiden and turned the boy’s weakness into strength as The Flash. Just because you were never diagnosed with ADHD doesn’t mean you don’t have it—learn the signs of adult ADHD.


batmanCourtesy Josh RossiSimon Fullmer is dealing with nerve cancer with way more maturity than you’d expect from a five-year-old. “He wants to know exactly what is going on and can tell when you are trying to sugarcoat it,” Simon’s mom tells Rossi. “He asks every doctor/nurse exactly what they are doing. He’ll even correct them now when they forget to do something.” That detective-level attention to detail is exactly what we’d expect out of Batman. You can donate to Simon on his YouCaring page and use makeup to turn yourself into Batman without a full costume.

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Marissa Laliberte
Marissa Laliberte-Simonian is a London-based associate editor with the global promotions team at WebMD’s Medscape.com and was previously a staff writer for Reader's Digest. Her work has also appeared in Business Insider, Parents magazine, CreakyJoints, and the Baltimore Sun. You can find her on Instagram @marissasimonian.