Image Source: https://www.nj.com/
The inspiration for a series of comic books Trinity Jagdeo has published is rarely out of her sight.
Alexus Dick, her best friend since kindergarten, has spinal muscular atrophy, a rare disease that weakens muscles all over the body and limits life expectancy to under 30 years. Alexus, 20, now spends most of her time in bed, often without enough strength to make it into a $40,000 wheelchair her family acquired with Jagdeo’s help to give her a better quality of life.
Three years ago, during hours at her bedside during six months of treatment at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Jagdeo came up with the idea of creating a book and making the main character a superhero with a disability, like her best friend. She felt kids like Alexus needed to see images of themselves in publication to inspire and emulate.
Jagdeo, 20, of Vineland, said she originally thought about creating a fairy princess or a superhero and even wrote the Walt Disney company on several occasions to beg them to create characters with disabilities. When she didn’t get a response, she took things into her own hands.
“Superheroes should resemble us in some way — courageous, looks, characteristics,” Jagdeo said. “But in the disability world, there is not that type of representation. I wanted kids to look up to these characters whether they had disabilities or not.”
Jagdeo self published her first book, “Alice the Ace,” in 2018 using Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing service.
Her fourth book, “Victorious Victor,” was published this year. The lead character has autism and is based on Victor Perez, 14, a member of her church in Vineland, where they both live. All of the books are available on Amazon.
Jagdeo is schedule to host a walk-a-thon Saturday at the N.J. MotorSports Park Speedway to benefit Victor. He will also be on hand to sign copies of “Victorious Victor.” The event is organized by a nonprofit Jagdeo started called, From We Can’t to We Can. Proceeds from all the book sales, which cost $15 each, also go into the nonprofit.
Victor’s mother said she is overwhelmed by the devotion Trinity has for her cause.
“When Victor saw the book he just smiled and said, ‘that’s me,’” Rosali Perez said. “I said, ‘yeah, that’s you.’”
Perez said Victor is high functioning and is a, “normal active kid” in many respects, but does have challenges with social cues.
Victor’s super power in the book is keeping other kids safe from germs. Jagdeo also based an earlier book on Alexus’s younger brother Zane, who has also been diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy. That book is titled, “Zappy Zane.”
“I witnessed some of the things Alexus’s family went through financially,” Jagdeo said. “That’s the reason behind the nonprofit. It opened my eyes about having a disability in a world that doesn’t cater to disabilities.”