Nonprofit Gives Children Strength as the Heroes of their Stories

Capes and Crowns Foundation (CCF) is an Oregon-based nonprofit dedicated to empowering children who are battling cancer and other serious illness, as well as those living with special needs. They provide one-of-a kind, inspired photography experiences for children to bring them joy, create memories and remind these real-life superheroes that their diagnosis does not define them. Founder and CEO Kylie Cole created CCF in 2015 after what was supposed to be a straightforward fantasy photo shoot for a themed birthday. An image of four boys as Marvel Comic heroes found one boy as a pensive Thor, looking down at his foot as rays of sunshine pointed to his leg and hammer. “All of a sudden, the mom burst into tears,” says Kylie. “You don’t understand, she told me, Elijah (age seven) has cancer.” At that moment, Kylie realized there was a larger power in these photographs. “Kids need tangible things—to see is to understand,” she explains. “Seeing himself as Thor gave Elijah the belief that he was strong enough to fight cancer.” To create an image, a team of photographers, editors and videographers use a traveling inventory of costumes, and an extensive library of backgrounds and computer rendering effects. In the finished artwork, kids see themselves in positions of strength and beauty. In 2019 Capes and Crowns will gift 1,200 sessions, with 400 in the Portland/Metro area alone. There are no costs for qualifying families and companies like Good Prints also donate finished images. Sessions are so much more than a photoshoot, says Kylie. “These kids bring their imagination to life and become part of the story. There is so much power in that.”