The REAL Justice League!
Many want to be super heroes in real life. We want to be Superman and fly, have incredible strength like Wonder Woman and super speed like The Flash. Some people though already have these superpowers. I set out a few months ago to find the REAL Justice League and photograph them. The kids that my team and I chose have been through hell and back and have real superhuman strength!
I Josh Rossi and my wife Roxana worked with the amazing costume designer Julie Whiteley to create the most epic photoshoot of kids with disease and disabilities. The idea was to showcase their inner strength in a way that would bring a smile to their faces as well as others struggling with similar issues. My wife Roxana who produced the shoot spent weeks searching until she finally found the Justice League kids!
Our journey took us to Kayden Kinckle a 5 yr old who has been a double amputee for most of his life. Kayden was born with Omphalocele, which caused his internal organs to grow outside his navel. The doctors told his mom to abort him because he was going to be in bad shape but instead she decided to save her son even though it meant causing his legs to be amputated.
After seeing Kayden in person I couldn't believe how strong he was. 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!
We even surprised each of the kids with a large print after the photoshoot. Here is Kayden's reaction. For more info on Kayden or if you want to help you can visit his FB page HERE or buy his book HERE which helps pay for medical bills.
Our second Justice League member is Sofie Loftus. She was diagnosed at only 3 yrs old with a rare form of cancer called Embryonal Rhabdomyosarcoma!
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 had 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. Sofie is a real fighter and fits perfectly as Wonder Woman! In the image below you can see that her right eye is swollen and red from the radiation.
When Sofie received her photo print her reaction was so cute! For more info on Sofie visit her GoFundMe page HERE.
Our third member is Teagan Pettit who was born with only half a heart also known as HLHS (Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome). He has had 3 open heart surgeries and several more to tune him up. He takes a lot of medication and wears oxygen at night and recently just got his g-tube (feeding tube) taken out. His family almost lost him 2 years ago and had to take him to Philadelphia for a life-saving procedure, after waiting for over a year for a heart transplant.
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. 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!
When we delivered the large print to Teagan he wasn't feeling good but I think this made his day. For more info on Teagan you can visit his FB page HERE.
Our fourth member of the Justice League is little Mataese Manuma who is only 2 yrs old but has 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.
Here is Mataese's reaction to the surprise. Thanks to Nicols Photo Lab for donating the prints! I think his parents were more excited for the print than he was! For more info on Mataese you can visit his GoFundMe HERE.
Our fifth member is the 7 yr old Zaiden Stolrow.
When I first heard that Zaiden had severe ADHD I didn't think he would fit the part until I heard his very sad story.
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. 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 the "light leave from his eyes." This poor boy who needs friends and connection suddenly becoming an outcast. After I heard this story I told myself I was going to take Zaiden's weakness and turn it into a strength. I thought that turning Zaiden into The Flash would be perfect. 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!
Here's Zaiden's reaction!
Our 6th superhero is Simon Fullmer who is only 5 and diagnosed with a rare form of nerve cancer called Neuroblastoma. Simon is a quirky strong kid who "never complains" says his mom. He absolutely loves Batman and also Bruce Wayne "because he is rich."
Simon's mom Trisha said this about her son..."Simon is a very literal kid, he wants to know exactly what is going on and can tell when you are trying to sugarcoat it. He asks every doctor/nurse exactly what they are doing. He'll even correct them now when they forget to do something!" Simon is a super tough kid and has dealt all of this like a true super hero which makes him perfect for the character Batman! For more info on Simon visit HERE.
Simon's reaction is perfect for his personality...
It is exactly their weaknesses that make them strong!
Together they form The Justice League!
For more info on the project contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Digital artist and photographer Josh Rossi
Costume designer Julie Whiteley
Wonder Woman costume designer Mcgrew Studios
Cyborg model digital artist Mike Campau
Producer Roxana Rossi
Second shooter for Aquaman Richard Meade
Prints provided by Nicols Photo Lab