Renee Bergeron and her 4-year-old son Apollo (above) had a rough 2012. In January, Apollo — who has 13 siblings (seriously!) — was diagnosed with a double aortic arch, a heart defect. In March, he had heart surgery. In May, he had a feeding tube placed in his stomach. And in October, he had another heart surgery.
That's when she started taking photos of him in a superhero costume.
"I wanted to do something that would make him feel strong and powerful," she said in an email to mindbodygreen. "I wanted him to know he still had some control over his life and body."
When she saw how excited Apollo got upon seeing the photos, she decided to offer her services to other special-needs kids. The result is an inspiring series called "The Superhero Project."
Like her son, the children she photographed transformed when in costume in front of the camera. They looked proud, happy and determined.
"I have had moms call me and write to me in tears over how much they have loved the photos and how they felt I captured their child's personality," Bergeron said.
"I want people to be able look past outward appearances and to realize that these children have extra challenges, but that they have something very unique to offer the world. And at the end of the [day], they are just kids."