‘Tiny Superheroes’: Empowering Extraordinary Sick Kids, One Cape at a Time (PHOTOS)Meredith Carroll
All kids deserve to be empowered. It’s just that it’s harder for some kids to find the emotional and physical strength, despite how much support encouragement they receive.
Robin Rosenberger, a mom from Seattle, recognizes that kids battling cancer and other ailments need a little extra help. Which is why she started giving capes to kids in need of some “extra strength,” according to the New York Daily News. At first she just made the capes for fun for the kids in her own family, but after reading the blog of a little girl with a severe skin disorder, she realized the capes could also be used by kids “who exemplify strength and determination as they overcome great adversity.”
Once the kids receive the capes from Robin, she features them on her blog, Tiny Superheroes, “in hopes of giving them a voice, their illness or disability a face, and the world the opportunity to stretch”
Kids with emotional wounds are also the recipient of Robin’s extraordinary capes, too. Three hundred capes have been shipped to Boston for kids affected by the Boston Marathon bombing.
Take a look at a few of the tiny but mighty superheroes who wear their capes with pride and great power:
Tiny Superheroes 1 of 7Their size doesn't match their might.
Super Angel 2 of 7Super Angel is 10 (almost 11) years old and has truly fought through more than most ever will in a lifetime. Angel was born in California in 2002 with bilateral cleft lips and palette. So by the time he was 5 years old, he had already endured 6 surgeries for these repairs. Because of this, Angel understandably was not a fan of doctors and hospitals. So, in 2008 when Angel told his mom he needed her to take him to the doctor, she knew something was wrong.
Angel had been play fighting with his younger brother. His younger brother placed his foot on Angel's stomach and Angel started crying in pain. Knowing the kind of pain that her five year old had already endured in his life, Angel's mom knew that his pain was real and took him to Urgent Care. Angel's mom pushed back when they tried to send him home with Tylenol, and the resulting ultrasound showed something abnormal next to his liver.
A CT scan revealed a 10 cm tumor in his adrenal glands, and on December 12, 2008, Super Angel was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma cancer. Neuroblastoma is a rare disease most commonly found in children under 1 year old. The nerve cells called neuroblasts, which normally grow and mature into functioning nerve cells, become cancer cells instead.
At home, Super Angel has a loving and supporting family. His mom is his sidekick through all of these hospital stays. Angel has said that he gets his strength and energy from his MaMa, and he needs her when he's in the hospital. Their bond is pretty obvious as his mom recently shaved her head for him. 'The hardest thing that I have to live with during this journey is that I leave my other three kids behind when I stay in the hospitals for days, weeks, even months,' she said.
Read more about Super Angel's journey at TinySuperheroes.com.
Super Brenna 3 of 7Brenna was truly born a TinySuperhero. On December 19, 2011 Brenna joined the world with a very rare and severe skin disorder called Harlequin Ichthyosis. Currently only about 12 out of 311,591,917 Americans are diagnosed with Harlequin Ichthyosis. Here's how Brenna's mom explains the disorder - 'Without the protein that helps the top layer of her skin form like it should, Brenna's skin doesn't do its job right - it doesn't maintain her body temperature, it doesn't hold its moisture and it doesn't keep out bacteria, leaving her very susceptible to infection.'
It wasn't too long ago that Harlequin Ichthyosis was a fatal diagnosis, with most babies only living a few days. But, Super Brenna just celebrated her first birthday and with more research, medical advancements, and Brenna's super powers, Brenna will be changing our world for many, many years to come!
Brenna has been displaying her super powers and transforming the lives of people around her every day since she was born. In one short year she has fought infections, undergone surgeries, stole the hearts of many nurses, and taught many doctors many things they never knew!
Read more about Super Brenna's journey at Blessed By Brenna.
Super Isaac 4 of 7If there were ever one TinySuperhero to want on your side...Super Isaac is it! This TinySuperhero is a fighter, and nothing can stop him!
Isaac was born with Esophageal Atresia (EA). Esophageal Atresia is essentially a birth defect in the esophagus. It develops in utero, early in pregnancy. Typically, the esophagus connects the mouth to the stomach; however in babies with EA, the connection is incomplete. Often the esophagus will either stop, ending in a pouch before reaching the stomach, or lack the connection in the middle. This means that anything that goes into the mouth (saliva, food, etc) doesn't make it to the stomach. There are five forms of EA (differing by the levels of esophageal development) and it is prevalent in about 1 in 3,000 births.
Isaac was born 9 weeks early at just 3lbs 3oz. His type of EA was such that he had two parts to his esophagus - one coming from the mouth and one from the stomach - without connecting in the middle. They immediately began unsuccessful attempts to connect and repair Isaac's esophagus. Unfortunately, these initial surgeries led to more complications - vocal cord paralysis, and eventually a tracheotomy. He spent his first 11 months of life in the ICU. Isaac's life has been full of surgeries, doctors, second opinions, traveling... the list is long.
Super Isaac just celebrated his 4th birthday! He was born 2 days before Thanksgiving, and his family has given thanks every day since. In 4 short years, he has had 21 major surgeries. He has been paralyzed and sedated for 11 weeks while his esophagus was grown for him. They travel monthly from Virginia to Minnesota to have his new esophagus stretched (it tightens due to scar tissue). He has several lung complications, is at constant risk of pnemonia, has a feeding tube, and bad reflux. Yet still, they are thankful. Every day is unpredictable, and his family has embraced the adventure. They have sacrificed so much for their TinySuperhero and when you read their story, you will hear only gratitude from them. His mom shares, 'Always appreciate what you have, we have seen the worst things that can ever happen to a person, and because of that we appreciate what we have and know that in the grand scheme things could always be much worse.'
Read more about Super Isaac's journey at SavingIssac.com.
Super Esmé 5 of 7EsmÃ© was born with The Cute Syndrome. Ok, so The Cute Syndrome isn't actually an official medical diagnosis, but it indeed perfectly describes the symptoms of EsmÃ©'s undiagnosed genetic condition.
At their 20 week ultrasound, EsmÃ©'s parents received the news that their perfect baby seemed to have a genetic disorder; however, the doctors weren't sure of the nature of her condition. Fast forward two years, and the doctors still aren't sure. EsmÃ© was born full term, but stayed in the NICU for one week because she wasn't feeding well and had low muscle tone. EsmÃ© went home, but problems arose quickly, and at just 3 1/2 months old, EsmÃ© went into respiratory failure followed by respiratory and cardiac arrest.
Life, since defying death in the ER that day, has been anything but "normal" for EsmÃ©'s family. Her genetic condition is still undiagnosed (The Cute Syndrome), which also means they have no prognosis or idea of what the future holds. EsmÃ© is also fighting severe hypotonia (low muscle tone), developmental delay, severe GERD, feeding difficulties, a minor heart abnormality, and epilepsy. EsmÃ© just celebrated her second birthday, but due to the extremely low muscle tone, she cannot support herself in a sitting position for very long. She is also non-verbal.
What all of these medical diagnosis (or lack there of) haven't addressed; however, is EsmÃ©'s super powers. She has several, but the one she shares publicly is her ability to bring a smile to even the rudest onlooker with her positive spirit. Through tests, procedures, vomiting, hospital stays, and seizures, EsmÃ©'s smile is never far away. She may not crawl, walk, sit, or talk...but EsmÃ© smiles and laughs all the time, and causes everyone around her to do the same! It's as if she knows more than us - as if she understands that indeed she is exactly who she is meant to be. EsmÃ© has done an amazing job at teaching her parents, doctors, and now us, the balance of keeping her safe and healthy, while letting EsmÃ© be EsmÃ©.
Read more about Super EsmÃ©'s journey at The Cute Syndrome.
Super Dillon 6 of 7Super Dillon was born on May 29, 2012 in California. He was born over 5 weeks early and weighed just 3 pounds, but after spending several weeks in the NICU getting strong, Dillon went home and is a happy, healthy little guy! But, Super Dillon is not the average 10 month old (even outside of his extreme cuteness). Super Dillon has the strength of two Extraordinary TinySuperheroes - his own TinySuperhero powers, and those that he has inherited from his older brother, Jacob.
Super Jacob is the perfect picture of an Extraordinary TinySuperhero. Just 3 months shy of his 4th birthday in 2006, Jacob got sick. He was misdiagnosed three times (ear infection, strep throat, & viral infection) before tests revealed that he had cancer. From that day on, Jacob was the toughest fighter you'd ever meet. Through chemotherapy, illness, and 2 bouts of remission, the smile you see here on Jacob's face never faded. While he was fighting for his own life, he was changing, inspiring, and bettering the lives of everyone around him.
You could ask anyone who knew him, and they all would tell you that this angelic smile was permanently placed on Jacob's face. We can only try to imagine how tragic Jacob's passing was for his family that loved him so dearly. For 3 1/2 years they fought with him every day to beat cancer. Twice, he even was clear, only to have to begin the fight again. While it will never remove the pain and heartache, Jacob is as present now as ever through his little brother Dillon. Their mom knew that Jacob was watching over him when Dillon fought through his first weeks in the NICU. And while Jacob may not physically be here, Jacob is and will always be Dillon's older brother. And each year on Jacob's Angelversary, Dillon will join his parents in sending up balloons and adding an angel figurine to their collection to honor his older brother - his TinySuperhero sidekick that he never got the chance to meet on Earth, but who is with him all the time. Super Jacob shines brightly on Super Dillon's cape to remind his sidekick that he's never far away.
Read more about Super Dillon at TinySuperheroes.com.
Super (Princess) Ireland 7 of 7Meet Super Ireland - Super Princess Ireland. The world surely isn't ready for the way this TinySuperhero is going to stir things up!
Super Ireland has been keeping her mom, dad, and two brothers on their toes since her arrival on December 15, 2007. Ireland was born with several medical conditions including: Down Syndrome, a hole in her heart (atrial septal defect), a missing leaflet in her aortic valve (bicuspid aortic valve), lung disease, and Esophageal Atresia (EA). Ireland was very sick at birth, and was airlifted to the University of Minnesota Children's Hospital.
Finally, in October of 2012, Super Ireland got what her family has waited on for 5 years - a complete esophagus - a colophagus (a mix between esophagus and colon). This is a miracle. This surgery wasn't hiccup-free either, and with each hiccup Super Princess Ireland surprises the doctors with her ability to bounce back! I think Ireland's mom gives us a pretty good idea (and puts into perspective) what a major victory this colophagus is for Ireland's family. They have worked so hard and given so much to celebrate something most of us try hard to avoid.
Princess Ireland's super powers go beyond defying medical odds, rocking an extra chromosome, or having a hole in her heart. Super Ireland is a TinySuperhero because she is a girl full of love. She smiles through surgeries, long stays in the hospital, and among her family at home. She makes the people around her smile! She works incredibly hard in physical therapy, has Super Isaac wrapped around her finger, cuddles a baby like she was born to be a mother, and in everything, she smiles. Ireland is a teacher, a fighter, a lover, and we're honored to call her a TinySuperhero.
Read more about Super Ireland's journey on her Facebook page.
All photos used with permission from Tiny Superheroes
To nominate a Tiny Superhero or sponsor a cape, click here
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