Skip to main content

How superhero costumes help brighten the day of a 6-year-old with early onset scoliosis

Shriners Hospitals for Children
(Image credit: Sarah Holley (Shriners Hospitals for Children))

Superheroes may be fictional, but their power to inspire and help is real - especially in the case of six-year-old Liam.

Liam was diagnosed with early onset scoliosis at the tender age of 2, and since then has been receiving treatment for the illness at the Shriners Hospital for Children in Portland. Part of that treatment is the use of corrective casts as Liam grows, and Liam's mother Sarah Holley saw those as an opening to turn this potentially negative experience into something more positive, and more memorable.

Sarah began creating superhero versions of these corrective casts for Liam to wear, and the young boy took to it quickly.

Shriners Hospitals for Children

(Image credit: Sarah Holley (Shriners Hospitals for Children))

"The casting treatments were a difficult pill to swallow as a parent. You think about the things your child will be missing out on because of the cast," Sarah said in a press release from the Shriners Hospital for Children. "Ultimately, the big picture becomes the most important thing, and knowing you are doing everything possible to give your child the best possible outcome overpowers the small things you may miss."

So far Liam has dressed up as Spider-Man, Batman, Captain America,  and Thor, and even expanded out of superheroes into the likes of Buzz Lightyear (from Toy Story), Obi-Wan Kenobi (from Star Wars), and Hiccup (from How to Train Your Dragon).

As part of Liam's treatment, he typically gets a new fitted brace every 9 to 12 months - and every time Sarah has made her son a new ensemble.

Shriners Hospitals for Children

(Image credit: Sarah Holley (Shriners Hospitals for Children))

"Liam loves the photoshoots. It is the highlight of our week. We have turned them into adventures each time. It is always an absolute blast for him," said Sarah. "Liam has a long road ahead of him. I'm trying to teach him that through hard times come good moments – that if you look hard enough at the hard road in front of you, you will see a positive path. My hope is that when he looks back at this time in his life, it will make him smile."

Want to be a superhero for Halloween, but don't have a big budget? Check out our guide to some easy superhero costumes you can make.

Chris Arrant

Newsarama Senior Editor Chris Arrant has covered comic book news for Newsarama since 2003, and has also written for USA Today, Life, Entertainment Weekly, Publisher's Weekly, Marvel Entertainment, TOKYOPOP, AdHouse Books, Cartoon Brew, Bleeding Cool, Comic Shop News, and CBR. He is the author of the book Modern: Masters Cliff Chiang, co-authored Art of Spider-Man Classic, and contributed to Dark Horse/Bedside Press' anthology Pros and (Comic) Cons. He has acted as a judge for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, the Harvey Awards, and the Stan Lee Awards. Chris is a member of the American Library Association's Graphic Novel & Comics Round Table.