Kids fighting disease, disabilities find superhuman strength with powerful photoshoot

A Los Angeles based photographer is taking kids real life weaknesses and turning them into strengths. "I want this to help other kids that are suffering, to feel strong and inspire many others," said Josh Rossi.

We would go out on a limb and bet you wanted to be a superhero at some point in your life.

Maybe you wanted to be Batman because he had cool gadgets and vehicles. Or maybe you wanted to be Wonder Woman because she’s the epitome of a strong, independent woman.

Well, Los Angeles based photographer Josh Rossi took the Justice League to a whole new level. Rossi had some awesome photoshoots with children we know have superhuman strength because they are each fighting a disability or disease.

We reached out to Rossi about his inspiration behind it all. He told us the inspiration came after he did a Wonder Woman shoot with his daughter.

“I had a lot of people contact me telling me their child had cancer or some other disability and that they were the real superheroes. After that I decided that I needed to find the REAL super heroes out there and do a photo shoot of them,” said Rossi.

According to Josh Rossi’s biography on his website, he said, “Whenever I create an image I try to think of a story behind it. I want my viewer to get into the picture and imagine a whole scenario. What brings me joy is when I can inspire others to do bigger and greater things.”

Credit: Josh Rossi Photography Custom

In this journey, Rossi’s wife, Roxana, produced the shoot and found all the children. Roxana spent weeks searching until she found kids that fit the correct superhero.

“We wanted the kids to have similar traits or stories as the super heroes,” said Josh.

And that’s exactly what they did, they found six super hero children.

The costumes were created and donated by designer, Julie Whiteley. She spent three weeks creating these movie realistic costumes and even pulled some all-nighters.

Kayden Kinckle is 5-years-old who is a double amputee. He was born with Omphalocele which is a rare defect where his organs grew outside of his navel. “His mom was told to abort him but she decided not to. He was perfect for the character of Cyborg, who had a terrible accident and his dad created robotic parts to keep him alive,” Josh told us.

Sofie Loftus was diagnosed with Embryonal Rhabdomyosarcoma at just 3-years-old. In Josh’s blog, he said Sofie dreamt of having long dark hair but her cancer caused her to lose her own hair. Josh made her into Wonder Woman and she conquered her poses with such fierceness! Way to go, Sofie!

Mataese Manuma is 2-years-old and has a rare cancer called Acute Megakaryoblastic Leukemia. Mataese is just right for, Aquaman, the God of the water since he is also of Polynesian descent. This sweet little guy was so tired and weak during his shoot that his brother helped him pose a little. Talk about pulling at your heart strings!

“The shoot was amazing with the kids. Even though most of them had just come out of chemo and radiation treatments that same week, they were happy and excited to do the shoot,” said Josh. “They didn’t complain and were getting into the poses I had for them. It was amazing being able to photograph these little, strong people.”

Next is Teagan Pettit, a 9-year-old who was born with half a heart which is called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS). In Josh’s blog, he said Teagan has had several open-heart surgeries with more expected. Just recently he had a life-saving procedure after waiting a year for a heart transplant. Teagan loves Superman. And, why shouldn’t he? They are so similar because they both have hearts of gold!

Then there is 7-year-old Zaiden Stolrow who has severe Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. ADHD is a brain disorder that causes inattention, hyperactivity-impulsivity that creates struggles for everyday life. Zaiden loves to run, but since he couldn’t stay still in school he’d get into trouble. Josh’s blog said Zaiden’s friends slowly made him the outcast. So, his “weakness” was turned into a strength, making Zaiden The Flash.

Simon Fullmer is 5-years-old with Neuroblastoma, a form of nerve cancer. Simon loves Batman and Bruce Wayne. In Josh’s blog Simon’s mom, Trisha said her son is very literal and wants to know exactly what’s going on, doesn’t want anything sugarcoated, and even corrects his doctors and nurses if they forget to do something. He’s the perfect fit for Batman, right?

Credit: Josh Rossi Photography Custom

From start to finish, the Justice League kids project took two months. And Josh said the response to this project has been amazing and a very emotional, touching series. The most challenging part was getting the costumes done on time because of their complexity.

We asked Josh what he wanted everyone to know about this awesome project and he said he wants to convey that our weaknesses are what make us strong.

“I want this to help other kids that are suffering, to feel strong and inspire many others,” he added.

So, the final question is will we see more of these photoshoots? Josh confirmed he does have plans to keep doing these shoots in the future. We can’t wait to see them!

For more on Josh Rossi Photography, click here.

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