Real-life superheroes fighting disability and disease walked the red carpet on Nov. 13 before an early screening of the 2017 movie "Justice League."
Sofie Loftus, Teagan Pettit, Zaiden Stolrow and Kayden Kinckle rode in a limousine to the Jordan Commons movie theatre. The crew was dressed as Wonder Woman, Superman, Flash and Cyborg, respectively, and was cheered on by dozens of supporters when they arrived.
“The messaging behind it was that our weaknesses make us stronger,” said photographer Josh Rossi, who did a photoshoot of the kids earlier this year and had the kids dress up as superhoes to empower them and showcase their inner strength.
Rossi added that he hopes the project will inspire others to go out into the comunity and help other kids who are suffering. Initially, he said he was inspired with the idea after doing a photoshoot of his daughter who was diagnosed with cancer.
“Me and my wife got the idea to find the real superheroes in society, which were these kids that just had disabilities, had cancer, leukemia and other things,” he said.
These superheroes have been diagnosed with disabilities and diseases such as cancer, severe ADHD, half a heart and double amputation. Teagan’s mother Brytten Pettit said that Rossi’s project couldn’t have come at a better time, since all of his friends were trying out for the basketball team and he couldn’t.
“He was a little bit sad," she remembered. "He said, ‘Mom, do you think I’m the only one in this room who isn’t trying out for the basketball team?’ And I said, probably, but not every kid gets to be Superman.”
Each of the participants was dressed as a superhero that they love and with whom they share a common attribute. For instance, Zaiden was Flash because he is fast and loves to run. Sofie’s aunt, Tammy Westover, believes that Sofie is resilient, just like Wonder Woman, and even more so after this experience.
“I think it’s helping to give her courage and to see some camaraderie with the other kids," Westover said. "It has changed Sofie’s life, but it has also changed every single one of our lives.”