Happy Birthday!

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iCan Bike Camp

This week was the first time I’d ever heard of iCan Shine – a national organization that “provides quality learning opportunities in recreational activities for individuals with disabilities. By creating an environment where each person is empowered to maximize their individual abilities, everyone can shine!”

iCan Shine provides opportunities for kids all around the country to master recreational activities of their choice. They now have iCan Bike, iCan Swim and iCan Dance.

I am SO happy that I learned about this organization – it is AMAZING. And then, to make things even better, I learned about the Lydia Cox Memorial Foundation – another incredible organization that is here in St. Louis started by the family Lydia – an Extraordinary girl who from birth, used Down Syndrome to reveal her superpowers. Super Lydia passed away in October of 2009 at the age of 3 after a complication during heart surgery. Her legacy lives on through her foundation, and the Lydia Cox Memorial Foundation has used their funding to host an iCan Shine Bike Camp in St. Louis for the past 9 years.

Super Maria signed up for iCan Bike in St. Louis and was VERY hesitant to go. Even her new blue bike she was getting at camp wasn’t enough to convince her that this could be fun. She was scared, but she did it anyways.  I always tell our Squad that yes – even superheroes feel scared. It’s the courage to move beyond the fear that makes them superheroes. By the end of day 1, Super Maria was loving bike camp and making remarkable progress on her bike.

We were thrilled to join her by empowering the other participants on their last day of camp. The camp is just 5 days. At the beginning, none of the kids were independently riding their bikes on two wheels, and by the end everyone had either mastered it or were coming super close to riding a two wheel bike independently. It’s quite remarkable.

Super Maria was SO excited that the other campers were going to receive their capes today. When her mom came out to the living room this morning, Super Maria was ready to go in her TinySuperheroes Tee and Cape strapped on. 

Super Maria has the sweetest heart. I have the privilege of calling her a good friend as well as a member of our Squad, and seeing the way that her cape brings her courage is a daily reminder of the heart behind our Mission with TinySuperheroes.

The pride in her smile as we watched her ride her bike today is probably why the amazing volunteers who run these camps keep going…it’s unbeatable.

I encourage you to check out iCan Shine and see what programs are available in your area! It was an amazing experience to even get a small taste of their Mission today. You can find locations of their programs her

Meet the Crew: Terri

Terri is a sewing phenomenon… Seriously. One time we gave her over 100 letters to sew onto capes… and I swear she finished in like an hour! It is truly an honor to have Terri as our seamstress here at TinySuperheroes HQ. Terri is responsible for personalizing all of the superhero capes. So, if your cape has a letter on it, Terri personally cut the letter, placed it on the cape and sewed it! She was even the one to wrap it all up in the tissue paper, put a sticker on it, package it up, and print the label with your name and address on it!

Not only is Terri lightning-quick, but her work is absolutely beautiful.

When Terri started working for TinySuperheroes two and a half years ago, she was helping Robyn by sewing 20-30 capes per month. Now, Terri is sewing more than 400 per month!

What a wonderful lady. But she doesn’t stop there!  

Terri was an OR nurse in pediatric hospitals for 30 years.

“I began my nursing career as a student at Deaconess School of Nursing and continued to work there after graduation. From there I went to work at Shriners Hospital for Children for over 6 years as an OR nurse. I left Shriners and started in the operating room at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. I stayed there for 24 years. The decision to leave was not easy. I loved working with and for the children. Now, at TinySuperheroes I can continue to work for the children, but just in a different setting!”

It is obvious that Terri is an incredibly caring, thoughtful and selfless person.When she isn’t sewing capes, you can find her gardening, practicing her faith or spending time with her family.

“I have been married to my wonderful husband for 28 years, and we have 4 awesome children. As they move out and develop their own careers and families, we are amazed at how quickly they have grown!”

When asked, she will tell you her superpower is the ability to hyper-focus on an activity which makes her a task-master! But top secret information from HQ will tell you that her kryptonite is chocolate and all forms of carbs!

Make sure to share your campaign so you can not only help 3 other TinySuperhereos get their capes, but also so you can get your cape personalized by a truly amazing person!

Hey guys! It‘s Super Robyn here and I’m on a special birthday Mission!

I am on the TinySuperheroes Squad (which is very awesome) and every month we have the opportunity to earn a new Patch for our capes!

For my birthday this year, I want to raise money for our Patches Program so that even more kids can earn Patches, too!

Can you help? Every dollar matters when it comes to making my TinySuperhero friends feel Extraordinary!

Robyn’s Birthday

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Donation Total: $25.00

School’s Off, Patches On!

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Field Trip to Ellisville Elementary

Hi! (Maggie here- one of the TinySuperheroes Crew members.)

I had an awesome experience recently that I just have to share with you all.

While my amazing day job consists of sending capes to our TinySuperheroes, I also coach a nine-year-old soccer team. One of my players, Em, is a pretty incredible individual.

“Hi! My name is Emily, and I am in 3rd grade.  At school I like to help in the special needs room. When I get older I want to work with kids with special needs.”

When asked what they want to be when they grow up, most kids will say jobs such as a professional athlete, astronaut, painter, etc., which is awesome because kids should aim high and believe that they can be absolutely anything that they want. But when Em said that she wanted to help kids with special needs, it was a rare and unique thing to hear. It caught me off guard for a second. Not only is this answer realistic, but this occupation takes an incredibly patient and understanding person. It takes a lot for anyone to possess such qualities, but especially a nine-year-old. However, Em does!

One day, as Em was enthusiastically explaining how she spent her day as a buddy during the special olympics event at her school, it dawned on me that I just had to go meet her friends and get them all capes! The next day, I called Ellisville Elementary and set a date.

When we deliver capes to a classroom, the experience is always wonderful, but it is a little bit different at every location. We are never quite sure what kind of atmosphere we are walking into. Will it be a large bustling classroom or a small, quiet classroom? Do the kids know we are coming, or are we surprising them?

I had seven capes in my arms – all folded, wrapped and waiting to find their superheroes and new homes. Robyn and I checked in at Ellisville Elementary, got our name tags, and Em led us in the right direction!

As we walked into the small, intimate setting, we found that the teachers were reading a story about superheroes in preparation for us! These teachers were all so kind and gave us such a warm welcome. And then, within seconds of walking into the classroom, I met Super John Henry.

Super John Henry had his eyes on me the entire time. He had the biggest smile on his face and just had the most contagious belly-laugh I have ever heard. Within a couple seconds, he had everybody in the room laughing with him.

The teachers said that he had a crush on me, but really he was the one that stole my heart.

Eventually, after the laughter settled down, Robyn worked her magic and explained how each one of these kids is a superhero.

Then, Em individually handed out the capes, helping each TinySuperhero put it on!

Em explained, “Last week, Maggie came to my school and gave capes to all of the kids with special needs.  I got to help hand out the capes to everyone. The kids were so happy to get a cape, and it made me feel good about what I was doing.  I loved seeing the smiles on their faces. It was so fun having Maggie and TinySuperheroes come to my school!”

Field trips like this one are a wonderful reminder that it is about so much more than just the cape. It is about spreading joy, friendship and community connection. For that, I am extremely grateful. I am lucky to have found two jobs that I genuinely love doing, and the fact that these two worlds collided in such a special way is a memory that will stay with me forever.

P.S. If you are a teacher looking to nominate your classroom full of TinySuperheroes, we would love to help! Contact us at capes@tinysuperheroes.com.

The Magic of the Cape

Every time a child is given a cape, whether it is flown across the world to Australia or hand-delivered across the street, we strive to make each TinySuperhero’s experience meaningful. We want them to feel empowered. We want them to feel loved. We want them to know that they are not alone; they are on a Squad with thousands of other kids from across the world.

And it works! There is something about the capes that reminds these Extraordinary kids of the magic within them.

“Super Jonathin has to regularly give blood to be tested to make sure his flesh eating bacteria isn’t trying to come back. He cries EVERY time. He cries when we turn down the hallway because he knows where we’re headed. He cries in the waiting room while I beg him not to scare the other kids. He cries when they take him back and I have to hold him down because he freaks out when they do it. It’s an exhausting experience. Today, I put his TinySuperheroes cape on and told him he wouldn’t be scared this time because he was a superhero. He didn’t cry once. Not even one tear.”
-Super Mom Katie Wilson-Perez

“I’m a photographer based in Atlanta, Georgia. Most photographers will tell you that photographing children is a challenge…. we learn to work around that…. it’s part of the fun…. This weekend I photographed a family that has a son with special needs. This is my second time photographing him and he’s so sweet, but very shy and doesn’t talk to me much. On our shoot Saturday his mom put on his superhero cape that you made him and his service dog and WOW!!! In all my years I have never seen such an instant change in a child. His chin went up, his shoulders went back and he marched himself right up to where he wanted his photo taken.”
-Super Wyatt & Super Sidekick Princess

However, the magic doesn’t stop there.

Sometimes, the magic occurs in the Sidekick Sibling.

For example, Super Anna and her younger sister, Super Sidekick Ava, have been on our Squad for a long time. While Super Anna joined our Angel Squad at 8-years-old due to complications related to a neurodegenerative disorder, PKAN, her family has stayed very involved in our Squad activities.  Anytime we see Super Sidekick Ava at an event, she is wearing her sister’s cape. Her mom explained to us that this was completely her idea. She finds comfort in wearing her sister’s cape. It is a way to remember and honor Super Anna. This is an extremely powerful thing for a child to do.

Others also honor their angels by continuing with the monthly missions; each time is a way for them to celebrate their loved one.

Seriously, we love our Super Sidekicks.

Here is another example. It was National Superhero Day, and we celebrated by having a big party! We invited all of our local TinySuperheroes and their families. Along with many other activities, we had a cape station, where all of our Sidekick Siblings could get a cape if they did not have one yet. Ellen, one of our favorite TinySuperheroes helpers, went  around making sure all of the Sidekicks that wanted capes got one! One boy in particular left a lasting impression. When Ellen asked this older brother if he wanted a cape, he said reluctantly, “No, I am not a superhero…” Ellen, of course, explained to him how incredible and super he really is, and how he deserves a cape too. His whole demeanor immediately changed, he rushed to go ask his mom if it was ok, and wore the cape the rest of the day.

And sometimes the cape’s magic touches the mom instead.

“My son, Kamden, just received his amazing cape this afternoon, and I am just beyond blessed to have him thought of for this. It brought me to tears! He has been wearing it for hours! Thank you for putting a big smile on my son’s face and letting him know he is a superhero!!”
-Super Mom Lindsay McArthur

“Hello! I just wanted to shoot you an email and tell you how beyond appreciative we are for all that you have done. We couldn’t have been luckier to become apart of a squad that is THIS incredible. Everything you stand for, and everything you do is remarkable. We received our package, and when I opened it with Hudson I bawled! It means so much to us and so much to him that you thought of us and sent him this. We loved reading every card, and we loved the drawing as well. We LOVE EVERYTHING. We would love to continue to do what we can to help others as well; if there is anything we can do on top of the missions please let us know!  Thanks so much again I wish I could tell ya 100 times over!!” -Super Hudson and Mommy!

Finally… to be the person to give a TinySuperhero a cape is one of the most magical feelings to experience.

This is one of the greatest gifts I have ever been given- the opportunity to deliver a cape in-person, and I am blessed to be able to do this quite often. To see a TinySuperhero’s face light up when they realize that they are a superhero for everything they have been through… to see the smile and realization creep across their face until it turns into full-blown laughter… to see them start to spin and run across the room with confidence and joy… It is one of the best feelings in the whole world.

Meet the Crew: Jamie

The Intro: I am a Wife & Mama Bear. A Believer. An absolute Fun-Haver and Sweat-Seeker. I am married to my handsome hubby, Dave. We just celebrated 10 years of marriage. His side-gig (and the one that caught my eye 13 years ago) is dj’ing. He is always taking the parties we throw for local TinySuperheroes to the next level with music and fun.

I have three very-spirited kiddos of my own. Kylie (8), Weston (6), and Theodore (3). At 15 months, Theo had Bilateral Ureteral-Reimplant Surgery after discovering his kidneys were under-developing in-utero due to Grade 5 Reflux and a complicated renal system. He amazes me everyday with his ability to not only overcome, but take on and do so with joy and curiosity!

My professional life has been an adventure, to say the least. While studying for my Master’s in Social Work, I was also a Professional Boxer/Kickboxer. I had the opportunity to travel all over the nation. I earned two National and one International title as well as becoming a Golden Glove Champ. This chapter of my life taught me so much about myself and the phantom limits I was creating.

At the end of my education, I walked away a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Communication and Cultural Studies. I have worked in the local court system as a Sexual Assault Victim Advocate, been House Mom to children in a local residential program that have complex medical/emotional/social needs.

I spent most of my professional career in Special School District supporting families to have a voice and a place at the table as decisions were made for their children. I trained and coached schools to implement interventions that leveraged the strengths and unique abilities of individuals and families and worked to build inclusive and integrated models for school districts so that every child felt a sense of belonging in their home-school community.

Before coming to TSH (which is my dream job), I was recruited to Mizzou’s Department of Special Education to continue supporting rural, suburban and urban district’s to build multi-tiered systems of support for all kids.

Role at TSH: Currently I am the Customer Service Task-Force. Ha Yep, me. So, I apologize if you’re frustrated with response times…we are working so hard at scaling up! This really is a dedicated, committed, inspiring team. I am happy to play any part of it. There are going to be some really exciting things coming your way soon. We all have so many hopes and dreams for this special community of TinySuperheroes.

How I got involved: Funny Story. I work out with Robyn’s Aunt (also a random circumstance). One day she said that I reminded her of her niece and she wanted us to meet. So, I did the logical thing and creeped on her Facebook page. I learned quickly how amazing she is (as you all know). The neatest part and why I really wanted to meet her was because she was a kidney donor. This may sound weird, but I have always wanted to donate a kidney AND my mom is a recipient of one. I wanted to hear all about Robyn’s journey and introduce her to my mom.

So, fast forward…Missy set up the date. Robyn and I met at a blanket making party that Missy hosted. By the end of the night, Missy was working on my blanket while Robyn and I chatted. At the end of the night, she said she has always followed her gut and God, and both were telling her to ask me out…Well to come work for her. I said, Yes!

What I’m passionate about: So many things. I heard a podcast recently that really resonated with me. Some of us are super clear and passionate about one special thing. And some of us are passionate about life and all the messiness of it. I fall in this camp. We are referenced as “hummingbirds that cross-pollinate the world”. I love a lot about a lot.

If I have to drill down what makes me tick, it is helping others find and grow their own amazingness. To help people see that they are uniquely and imperfectly perfect and have a gift to give this world. I try and spread joy and laughter (it’s more like a cackle) wherever I go and I aspire to leave places and people better than when I found them.

In conclusion: I am committed to this work and helping Robyn spread this mission of hope and empowerment. I believe God has me right where he wants me and I am excited to see what He is orchestrating. I have a heart for others and I hope you feel that as we interact and grow together.

Shoot for Seamus

Honor, Courage, Humility, Quiet Strength, Faith, Endurance…to name a few of the things I bore testimony to today.

Also, I received an unexpected gift; one that I am not sure I deserved.

Not in the traditional sense…There were no bows, shiny wrapping paper to rip open, balloons with celebratory words, or people anxiously awaiting with smiles on their faces to see what was opened.

This was a gift of a different sort. The kind where you are invited into the most deeply painful, vulnerable and uncertain places in families’ lives and to walk alongside them, albeit brief.

I witnessed the power of community and the human connectedness that comes in tragedy, pain and in the unity of the unknown.

In the NICU.

This morning, our crew from TinySuperheroes, had the absolute honor of partnering with Shoot for Seamus for their 10th year to capturing pictures of so many TinySuperheroes fighting unique and mighty battles in the St. Louis Children’s NICU.

Volunteers and photographers, connected through their own journeys inside these walls, walked together adorned with love and TinySuperhero Capes, to provide brief respite, share a grain of joy, and capture this moment in time for families with uniquely beautiful and heart pulling stories to tell.

We were humbly invited into their lives. It was short and yet felt life-changing. Some families quietly stepped aside while we took pictures; some shared a glimpse into their story, while others were not there at all for so many reasons. No matter the circumstance, we were blessed to simply be human to tiny humans through silent tears, gentle back rubs, and exhales of hope released into the air. We were able to honor them right where they are in their precious life, and let each of them know we saw and loved them. What a gift.

As we moved from room to room, the halls were quiet, the feeling of worry and weary were palpable; I recognized that this truly is a place where time stops abruptly. Every breath labored, intense, steadfast. And even still, outside these very windows, life blazes ahead furiously and unforgivingly. My goodness, I imagine it must feel incredibly lonely and isolating; forgotten. Though…Through humble strength and endurance, I witnessed absolute warrior mama’s and daddy’s, babies that are unrelenting in their fight, and a staff so committed, as they spoke each child’s name with care and tenderness.

Upon arriving, I learned that this sacred event was born from the death of a sweet warrior named Seamus, just ten years ago on April 23rd, 2009, in this very NICU. I witnessed Tom and Sharon, his parents, celebrate his precious life by honoring and capturing a moment in time for families who are walking a similar and deeply painful path. The pictures taken captured the lights, the wires, the incubators…but also, the milestones, the hair, dimples, and eyes…their babies.

I had a moment to speak to Tom after the photo shoot, both of us elated and exhausted. I asked him how quickly after Seamus passed, was this idea born. He shared that it was pretty quick, as he and Sharon “needed to do something with the energy”. He said that shortly after Seamus passed, he read a quote that has stuck with him and pushed him forward for the past 10 years. It went something like this:

A rabbi that was dying, was asked if he was afraid to die.

He said, “No, I am not afraid to die. We all will. I am afraid of the second death.”
“A second death?”, the man inquired.

“Yes”, the rabbi replied, “the one when we are forgotten”.

…If there was anything I witnessed through this experience, it is that these sweet babies will not be forgotten in life or death.

In the end, every single one of them are deeply loved and have a purpose, no matter how short their time may be here.  

Their names will be spoken.

They will be remembered, celebrated, and courageously carried forward.

They are TinySuperheroes that have a gift to give.

I want to always receive it.

So, thank you to all of you in our TinySuperheroes community, for inviting us in and allowing us a glimpse into the amazing and unique journeys with your very special, very purposeful TinySuperheroes.

Anna’s Army – Accessible Egg Hunt!

Less than a year ago we were having an event at TinySuperheroes, and I first met Super Ava. Super Ava is not one that I’d ever forget. She is beautiful, strong, confident and exceptionally smart for her age. Super Ava came to the TinySuperheroes Squad via her sister Annaliese, who lost her life at age 8 due to complications related to the neurodegenerative disorder, PKAN.

Super Ava and her family were devastated to lose Super Annaliese, but they wasted no time ensuring that Annaliese’s legacy would live on, radiantly. They started Anna’s Army, and the beauty that Anna brought her family is now spreading to many others.

Anna’s Army is a not-for-profit foundation dedicated to helping children with physical disabilities better access play and leisure activities. They are doing amazing things, and we were honored to partner with them for the Spring Playdate and Accessible Egg Hunt that they planned!
There’s this place in St. Louis called the Magic House. It’s amazing. It has been around since I was a kid, though it has quadrupled in size in the last 30 years. It’s a children’s museum and has so many fun things to see, new exhibits to visit, activities like crafts, bubbles and water…

If there was one downfall to the Magic House it is that it’s so awesome that tons of people want to be there! It can be a bit overwhelming with the crowd, so Anna’s Army rented out the entire Magic House to allow amazing kids who might otherwise have a hard time getting around the opportunity to enjoy the Magic House, too! And even cooler, they hid eggs all over the place and created a special accessible egg hunt for our friends with physical differences.

It was awesome! They did things I never would have thought of to make the egg hunt fun for everyone! I think my favorite part was how they put velcro on the eggs and then placed gloves on the kids hands! The child could simply touch the egg with their glove, and it would stick! They also hid eggs in sensory bins and tied big balloons to eggs, so they could grab the balloon string from their wheelchair! Every time I have the privilege of participating in accessible activities, it opens my mind more each time, without fail.

Probably what filled my heart the most tonight was how many TinySuperheroes were there! TinySuperheroes that I had never met before! And for the kids that came who weren’t TinySuperheroes…well, now they are! I’m so excited to get their capes to them! It is so life-giving to be around our Squad!

Enjoy some photos, and if you ever get the opportunity to go to an accessible event, you won’t regret it! We have so much to learn to build a world where our TinySuperheroes have equal opportunities.