This College Student Founded A Nonprofit That Brings Disney Princesses And Superheroes To Life For Children In Hospitals

"Making life magical, one smile at a time."

When Jessica Hogan isn't studying at Capital University, she transforms into Disney princess Elsa from Frozen and visits with patients at the Nationwide Children's Hospital Child Care Center. 


According to The Columbus Dispatch, she first donned the Snow Queen's costume when her sister, who works at the Nationwide Children's Hospital Child Care Center, asked Hogan to come and visit the patients there. 

Not only did she oblige, but she went on to found the Royals Project, a nonprofit organization that brings Disney characters and Marvel/DC superheroes to life for children in the greater Columbus area. 

According to its website, the idea for the Royals Project was originally inspired by Hogan's own experience spending "a great deal of time in the hospital battling a variety of illnesses" as a child. "During one of my visits, a clown came to visit me, making my stay a little more durable, even enjoyable," Hogan wrote. "That feeling of joy inspired my original goal for The Royals Project: to make hard times for children a bit more bright." 

Two years later, she's in good — if a bit cartoonish — company. 

Since the founding of the Royals Project, the organization has since grown to about 30 volunteers, each portraying a beloved character. Only a few of those are close friends recruited by Hogan, the rest learned about her nonprofit via social media or word of mouth. 

No matter how each person has become involved in the Royals Project, they're all dedicated to the same mission: "to spread joy and inspiration to the hearts of children."  

Besides children's hospitals, the organization also does birthday parties, Easter egg hunts, charity events, and homeless shelters. They've also worked with The Ronald McDonald House and Nellie's Champions for Kids, which raises money for families of children with cancer.

The Royals Project almost never charges for its services, but when it ever does, the organizations uses the proceeds to buy presents for sick children.

Besides having the best excuse ever to play "dress up." Hogan has created a magical experience for each and every child who gets to witness their favorite cartoon character come to life. "The way the kids react when we come, there's nothing like it," she told The Columbus Dispatch

Makayla Gibbins, vice president of the organization who plays Belle from Beauty and the Beast, added to the publication, "The kids come up to you and tell you: 'You are my favorite. You made my whole life meeting you.'" Because many parents can't afford taking their children to a Disney theme park, or their children may be too unwell to travel, they're quick to make their appreciation for the volunteers known. 

Desiree Murphy, an office manager for Nellie's Champions for Kids, booked the Royals Project for her Violent, a cancer survivor's, birthday party. "My kiddo spent a lot of time in isolation, and she has a fear and anxiety about strangers," Murphy told the Dispatch. She added: "People who connect with my daughter, I can't put into words as a mom — but that speaks volumes about the Royals Project and its impact."

Hogan herself didn't realize how impactful the Royals Project would be when she first started, but the growth of "such a small idea" over the past few years has encouraged her to continue the nonprofit's work after she graduates from college. "It keeps me happy, keeps me going," she said. "I feel very fulfilled."

Though Hogan might not yet know what's next for the organization after she graduates college, she does know how significant and special the Royals Project already is — not only to the children's well-being, but to her own.

A Plus has reached out to Jessica Hogan and The Royals Project for comment.

(H/T: The Columbus Dispatch)


Subscribe to our newsletter and get the latest news and exclusive updates.