Local children are getting the chance to imagine themselves as powerful as Thor, as courageous as Moana, and with the strength of Captain America, instead of thinking about their next doctor's appointment. It's seen in their smiles captured in photos by the Capes and Crowns Foundation, and that's what motivates the women behind the non-profit organization.
"It's so much more than a photo shoot," said Capes and Crowns Foundation CEO Kylie Cole. "They get to be a kid and let their imaginations come to life."
The Oregon-based non-profit is traveling back to Los Angeles in August, to photograph more children facing life changing illnesses, surgeries and special needs. Each child gets to decide what they want to be in their own personal photo, whether it be a superhero, princess, athlete or anything they can imagine - at no cost to their parents. The images, costumes and props are provided by the Capes and Crowns Foundation thanks to donations.
"We're connecting with the families and it's collaborative," said volunteer photographer Stephanie Young. "To get these kids involved, they take on the persona. It's empowering to them. And the photograph at the end is the physical representation. It's something that will last a lifetime."
In just two years, the organization has traveled the country conducting more than 2,000 photo shoots, helping to unleash the inner strength in many children during their recoveries. In 2018, they stopped in Woodland Hills, photographing 2-year-old Christopher Martinez, who smiled for the cameras and flexed his muscles as Batman after undergoing months of chemotherapy. Ten-year-old baseball player Ariana Villegas was photographed as a Dodgers homerun hitter, after overcoming major heart surgery.
Some of the photo shoots have turned into family affairs as well, with parents and siblings dressing up right alongside their loved ones. Unfortunately, there have also been heartbreaking developments over the years, when the team learns that a child has succumbed to an illness. Through tears, the Capes and Crowns volunteers power through and say these smiles drive them.
"These families get to hold on to that photo, and being able to give that gift to the family means everything to us," Cole said.
"Sometimes those photos are the last memory, but what a powerful one," Young added.
If you would like to make a donation to the Capes and Crowns Foundation, or sign up a child who is battling cancer, a serious illness, or is living with special needs, for an Inspire Session photo shoot, we've posted the non-profit's link below. The team will be at the Hilton in Woodland Hills, August 22 - 25, 2019. The applications must be submitted by the first week in August to make sure they have time to secure the appropriate costume.
You can go to the Capes and Crowns website for more.
Capes and Crowns: A hero photo shoot opportunity for local children battling illnesses
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