Teen Daniella Benitez is a real-life hero, raising $16K to build homes for families in Mexico


Daniella Benitez/Instagram

You don't have to wear a cape to be a superhero, and Daniella Benitez is proof of that. The California teenager is being featured on the Disney+ show Marvel's Hero Project as one of several children who are making a real-life difference in their communities.   

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Daniella has been raising money and going above and beyond to help build homes for families in Mexico. What started as a project she did with her school has become something she is passionate about. By raising $16,000 per family, she helps families in need make their dreams come true of having their own home. She told MamásLatinas all about the work she's doing and how parents and their kids can also get also involved in helping people around them.

Daniella has become a superhero in the Marvel world.

Daniella lives in California but just a short drive from the Mexico border. During a trip with some volunteers to build a house for a family in Mexico, she realized how different her home was from theirs. She decided she needed to keep building. One house wasn’t enough, so she dedicated the time when she wasn’t in school to fundraising for materials and trip costs to go build more homes. Her younger brother and many of her friends have joined in her efforts, and she even started a club at school dedicated to fundraising and building more homes for families in Tijuana, with a goal of building at least one house per year--a goal she is surpassing. Now Marvel is recognizing her incredible and selfless work by making her a superhero and welcoming her into Marvel’s Hero Project. Daniella’s episode will be streaming on Disney+ on Friday, February 7.

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Daniella has teamed up with Build a Miracle to make this happen.

"Build a Miracle is a nonprofit started by Chris and Julianne North. It is located in Tijuana, Baja California, and they build homes for families living in extreme poverty," Daniella shared with MamásLatinas. "They’ve built over 376 homes since they started in 1999, and I am so happy to have learned about them in middle school. After going down with my school for a school-sponsored home build, I became very passionate about the cause and decided to head up the building of at least one home a year. To raise the $16,000 needed to take a family from living in dire poverty to living in a fully furnished home with running water, electricity, and plumbing, I round up sixteen of my closest friends and family members, and each one is responsible for raising $1,000!"

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Marvel recognized her as a true superhero.

Marvel recognized her as a true superhero.

Disney+

Marvel's docuseries aims to celebrate the remarkable, positive changes that young heroes are making in their own communities, and Daniella was chosen to be featured in one of its episodes, airing Friday, February 7. "A hero is someone who steps up and does what is right, even when it’s hard," Daniella shared. "To be looked at as a hero makes me feel so happy because it’s something I never expected, but this shows me I am doing the right thing!" She says her work won't stop here, and she plans on passing this project down to her own children, saying, "I am committed to doing this with my own kids, when I become a parent, too." 

The teen wants to help others by giving them a basic need.

"I feel like I’m using my gifts to make a difference and help others," she said. "I’ve made such good relationships with everyone down in Mexico, and I feel like they have become my second family. It feels so amazing and humbling to get to do something so special. A home is something most of us have, so to be able to gift something that is a basic need for others who don’t have it is the most rewarding feeling."

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She urges kids her age to find a cause they are passionate about.

She says the key for kids getting inspired is for them to seek something they feel strongly about. "I say to always follow through with something when you’re passionate about it. Don’t let anyone or anything hold you back. You have the power. Use it," Daniella shared, adding that parents can also get involved. "Parents can help by always being there to help and support their kids’ passions. My mom is the one that originally made my entire family go down for that first build, and that’s when my eyes were opened and my passion was found."

Here's an exclusive clip from Daniella's episode.

Daniella knows kids her age are capable of this and much more. "Find what you love and don’t try to be involved with something you aren’t passionate about," she said. "That’s the key." Check out her episode available now on Disney+