This Awesome Photographer Transforms Sick Kids Into Superheroes

Sometimes by understanding others’ struggles, we gain insight into what it means to embody a superhero. Photographer Josh Rossi has an especially close tie to discovering a hero in his midst. In 2016, the artist spent $1,500 turning his then-3-year-old daughter into Wonder Woman, and people loved his work so much, his project went viral. A year later, Rossi decided to expand his original idea and turn those fighting some of the most difficult battles into the crime-fighters we all know and love. His mission? Transforming kids battling disabilities and diseases into Justice League superheroes. Rossi told PetaPixel that his aim was to turn their ‘weaknesses’ (cancer and other physical and mental ailments) and turn them into strengths. During the project, he spent time getting to know and working with six kids all eight and under, creating a special movie poster just for them. Each custom costume, which cost over $10,000, was donated especially for this project. After the photographer mapped out the concept, shot, and edited the images, he surprised each child on camera with the final version. “It was amazing seeing the excitement on their faces,” he said. The squad includes:

Created By Goodnet
On Feb 20, 2019
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Kayden Kinckle as Cyborg

Josh Rossi Photography

Five-year-old Kayden was born with omphalocele, a condition that caused his internal organs to grow externally. In order to save his life, his doctors had to amputate both of his legs.

"After seeing Kayden in person I couldn't believe how strong he was," Rossi writes on FullTime Photographer. "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."

"When I met him he was as tough as nails and I could feel how strong this little guy was inside. Kayden even had a similar story as the superhero Cyborg from the Justice League. In Cyborg's younger years he was a healthy boy until he had a horrible accident. His father kept him alive by giving him robotic parts. Kayden is our first Justice League member!"

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Sofie Loftus as Wonder Woman

Josh Rossi Photography

Three-year-old Sofie is battling cancer of the connective tissues called embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma, an especially rare cancer.

Sofie's dream was to always have long dark hair, but when she got cancer she lost all of it. A few days before the photoshoot, Sofie just finished radiation therapy so she was very weak.

"In spite of the exhausting treatments she came and did her poses for the photoshoot with fierceness," Rossi writes. "Sofie is a real fighter and fits perfectly as Wonder Woman!"

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Zaiden Stolrow as The Flash

Josh Rossi Photography

"Zaiden loves to run and has endless energy which also got him in trouble at school. After getting excited for a school fundraising race Zaiden was benched in the principles office for the day for bad behavior. Zaiden was excited to run but wasn't able to sit still in school to wait for his turn," Rossi wrote on FullTime Photographer. 

"His parents were called to come pick him up and when his dad opened the door he saw Zaiden in tears. All he wanted to do was run. Slowly Zaiden's friends stopped inviting him to events and birthday parties and his mom said she saw the "light leave from his eyes." This poor boy who needs friends and connection suddenly becoming an outcast.

After Rossi heard his story he knew he would take Zaiden's weakness and turn it into a strength. Maybe now his friends will not only invite him to their parties but ask him to bring the suite and be the life of the party. Go Zaiden!

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Teagan Pettit as Superman

Josh Rossi Photography

Teagan’s been dealing with his condition since birth. He was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, meaning he only has half a heart. At a very young age, he’s already had three open heart surgeries, and several others to make improvements. Until recently, he had a feeding tube, and he still wears oxygen at night and takes several kinds of medications.

"After undergoing multiple surgeries Teagan is a strong 9 yr old who absolutely LOVES Superman! He loves Superman possibly because they are so similar. He and Superman have one weak point, their heart," Rossi writes.

"Superman grows weak when Kryptonite is near where as Teagan cannot regulate temperature because of his half heart. Where a healthy kid's body would warm up naturally such as in a cool pool on a hot day Teagan would come out with blue lips and have to be warmed up with blankets or another heat source."

"Teagan's mom said that everyday is a blessing. Teagan's condition could fail any day because of his heart but he keeps moving forward. Superman and Teagan both have hearts of steel!"

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Mataese Manuma as Aquaman

Josh Rossi Photography

Mataese - at only two-years-old - lives with a rare form of cancer called acute megakaryoblastic leukemia.

"This little man is a powerhouse! The day of the photoshoot he woke up with a fever after just barely finishing a round of chemo. His parents brought him to the hospital and after a few days was able to do the photoshoot."

"Since Mataese is so young and also weak from treatments his brother helped him out with some of the poses. In photoshop I had to do a little bit of stitching together such as a head here and a body there but in the end it turned out great. Mataese just like Aquaman from the movie are of Polynesian decent and so I thought it would be a perfect fit to be the God of the water."

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Simon Fullmer as Batman

Josh Rossi Photography

Completing the squad is Simon, a five-year-old with a rare nerve cancer called neuroblastoma.

Though his project, Rossi wanted to convey that the actors we see on the big screens aren’t the only ones fighting evil and displaying true strength.

“The kids that my team and I chose have been through hell and back and have real superhuman strength!” Rossi writes. “It is exactly their weaknesses that make them strong! Together they form The Justice League!”

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