Aaron D’Errico, who is living with cerebral palsy, is the son of former U.S. men’s national soccer team player Dave D’Errico. Aaron’s condition was diagnosed at one year old. The illness delayed his muscular development, and Aaron didn’t take his first steps until the age of five. As if that weren’t enough, in 2011 Aaron was hit by a truck while in his wheelchair, which has left him memory- and focus-impaired on top of a pre-existing learning disability.
Has he let that stop him? Not even remotely. “As someone who overcame the challenges of a learning disability, I hope to be a part of helping others read and learn as well,” he says.
He has created the first-ever soccer-star superhero in honor of his dad. The character Ammon, like Aaron, has cerebral palsy, but like many superheroes, he turns a difficulty into his source of power. According to the description of the comic, “He transforms the virus within him that caused [cerebral palsy], turning it into a super-natural, ever-evolving power source.”
Superheroes are a source of inspiration for both kids and adults throughout the world, and recently, a lot of focus has been placed on the use of superheroes as role models and inspiration for people with disabilities. From window washers dressed as superheroes visiting children’s hospitals to public photo appearances, superheroes are becoming the go-to group to inspire people with disabilities.
Aaron’s hero is somewhat different in that his hero actually has a disability, so in this case, the community relates easily to the superhero. Even Marvel Comics’ creator Stan Lee is paying attention. There have been superheroes with disabilities in the past—the wheelchair-bound Professor X of the X-Men is probably the most famous. But it’s always exciting when a new hero makes the scene to shake things up.
Aside from his father, other influences for Ammon include Sean Connery who, at one point before his acting career, wanted to be a soccer star, and the dragonfly, an insect that can molt its body shell in the same way that Ammon sheds his body and dons powerful armor.
Aaron’s primary goal is to educate others, build awareness, and help people who are living with similar disabilities. “I still want to help others via spreading awareness of cutting-edge medical breakthroughs via my heroes and their stories,” He says. “So in that I’m realizing my goal.”
He goes on to say, “Unfortunately, 99 percent of stem cells are thrown away, so I want to bring awareness to important things like that in my comic to help people from all walks of life and ability levels.”
Aaron says of his superhero, who travels the world using soccer to protect people, “You travel the world, you’re fit and it’s glamorous—like an athletic James Bond, packed with wish-fulfillment. There are lots of superheroes who just hit people and stuff. Let’s make them useful, not just vengeful vigilantes.”
Aaron is crowd-funding his endeavor to help promote reading through his comic book. Click here if you’d like to contribute!
Watch the video to see how Aaron used the artists’ network Talenthouse to start his superhero comic career. What would you name your comic superhero, and what would be the superpower?