People with developmental disabilities pose as famous icons

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Photo: Courtesy of Cassandra Zink
<p>Adam (Charlie Chaplin) is the child of parents with disabilities. Adam loves to dance.</p>

A Colorado nonprofit serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities challenges stereotypes in its recently released 2015 calendar.

People served by The Arc of the Pikes Peak Region pose as famous icons like Billie Holiday, Marilyn Monroe, and Albert Einstein sticking out his tongue.

"You know, we’re in the unreal expectations business," says Craig Severa, an advocacy specialist with The Arc. "I mean, everybody’s got some kind of gift and that includes people with developmental disabilities.”

The Arc used to be called the Association for Retarded Citizens, but changed its name in the 1990s.

"Now we're the Association of the Really Cool," Severa says with a chuckle.

Photographer Cassandra Zink took the photos, aided by a cadre of volunteer makeup artists behind the scenes.

Severa recalls one of the shoots in which Danny, who has a mild intellectual disability, poses as legendary baseball slugger Babe Ruth.

"He just became Babe Ruth." Severa says. "It was interesting because he showed up at our office that day and he had some kind of a meter – a little tech device that he had in his hand that he said was for detecting ghosts. And it was really weird because he kind of became the ghost of Babe Ruth, you know, his posture and his demeanor. That shoot lasted five minutes and we were over.”

One of the photos is of a parent of someone with a disability -- a DJ who poses as Bob Marley, Severa says.

The calendars aren't expected to make a profit, he adds. They're meant to raise awareness about people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

To learn more about the calendar, click here.