Avengers Assemble: Huxley Superheroes Raise Awareness for Rare Disease

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HUXLEY, Iowa - It's every child's dream to be a superhero, but three kids from Huxley are the real deal. They call themselves the "Air Avengers."

"When I looked up the word, 'Avengers', it means, 'a team of super-heroes.' So we figured that couldn't be any more appropriate, our kids are super-heroes and are what keep us going," said Katie Princehouse, mother of the super-team.

Andrew, Molly, and Alex Princehouse all have a genetic lung disease. It's so rare, doctors don't know much about it.

"There's really no great therapy for it as well," said Dr. Ricardo Flores, the family's local doctor. "It's a frustrating disease. Very frustrating."

But like most superhero stories, these siblings found a way to turn their problems into powers: Katie Princehouse came up with the "Air Avengers" fundraiser, and decided her family would raise awareness throughout their community.

"We actually woke up one morning, and had flamingos out in our front yard," said Audra Watson, a neighbor.

Yes - flamingos.

"We did 'flocking flamingos'," said Katie Princehouse. "Which means we put a flock of birds in peoples' yards, overnight while they're sleeping, with a sign that says, 'You've been flocked'."

With the flamingos came a handout explaining the children's disease. Neighbors could donate to the family's fundraiser - which both raised money for research on the disease and for their family to attend a conference on it in Denver, Colorado - and had 24 hours to "flock" someone else. Much like the viral ALS "Ice Bucket Challenge" on the web, the Air Avengers picked up steam; in one month, they raised around $4,000.

"The emotional response was huge," said Katie Princehouse. "Not only did our kids enjoy it, but  to see all the other kids and the joy that it brought them to see a flock of flamingos in their yard the next morning. The emotional response we saw was something we didn't expect."

Clearly, the Air Avengers were welcome heroes in Huxley. So what's next?

"We are talking about starting a non-profit down the road," she said. In the meantime, they've got plenty of flocking left to do in the metro. And for Katie and Marty Princehouse, it's their superhero kids that give them their own super-strength to keep going.

"They're resilient, they're brave, they're strong," she said. "That's what we all strive to be."