M-Family photoshoot - #Hope4Cali - in honor of pediatric cancer awareness
Her name is Calista Hope, her hashtag is #Hope4Cali ...and her smile will melt your heart.
Back in September I ran a little campaign for Childhood Cancer Awareness month in which I asked people to nominate their favorite childhood cancer warriors for a chance to win a free photoshoot with me. I also partnered up with a local pediatric cancer charity called Friends of Scott Foundation and agreed to donate $1 for every person nominated to them. My loving husband agreed to match my donation, and once the campaign took off several others also contributed so in total we raised over $400!
Throughout the month as the nominations come in I started to read some of these sweet kids' stories and follow some of their Facebook pages. I really started to gain a tiny bit of understanding of what these kids and their families go through. On September 29th, I wrote all the nominees' names down in my notebook and prayed. I prayed hard and I cried hard that night. Too, too many sweet little bodies were being tortured...too many hearts were aching...not nearly enough was being done for them. It was overwhelming. But I reminded myself that I can do my small part; I can give of my gifts. So, the next day, I put all these sweet warrior names into a bowl and, in my very first live video ever, I randomly drew the winning warrior!
I started this campaign to both raise awareness and find a way to give a little bit back to these amazing families. But I didn't fully realize how much I was gaining myself in the process. In learning about these kids, in meeting with Carmen from Friends of Scott Foundation, a wonderful mother who lost her own son, Scott, to pediatric cancer, in writing down all these kids' names and praying for them, and in the process of having my heart break for all these amazing babies, and their mommies, daddies, brothers and sisters, I gained the gift of perspective. I gained the gift of awareness, which is what the whole campaign was about, really. And I gained the gift of gratitude for all the many blessings in my life; especially having two healthy children of my own.
So when I finally met this adorable little warrior and her family this weekend, I cannot tell you how amazing I felt! First of all, I could not have chosen a more beautiful (and color-coordinated) family if I tried! They are all so incredibly good looking! But the beauty that shines through each of them from within, the love that radiates out from this incredible family is what truly makes them shine. This little warrior's parents are such beautiful examples of Faith, her older sisters so incredibly loving and supportive, and her twin brother, her little womb-mate, is just an angel. But this little girl... let me tell you, she was the star of the show. She is the definition of Grace.
Her name is Calista Hope, her hashtag is #Hope4Cali , and her smile will melt your heart.
I also want to give a very big thank you to Carmen at the Friends of Scott Foundation for providing sweet Cali with the opportunity to feel like a princess for her special photoshoot, and purchased a special dress for her to wear! I had asked Cali's mom who her favorite princesses were, and though she loves them all, her Mom told me "She has a special place for Snow White because when she started losing her hair, we all cut our hair like Snow White and now that her hair has grown out, she really looks like her!". Sweet little Cali certainly is the fairest in all the land!
A HUGE THANK YOU to my dear friend Olguta Goddard for coming along to "assist me"; these guys don't even know it yet, but she got some incredible "behind the scenes" video footage and put together the most AMAZING slideshow combining her footage and my images. Grab your tissues, friends, because this right here is sure to make you shed a tear and hug your littles extra tight tonight! What a treasure for this incredible family.... thank you so much Olguta!
Also thanks in large part to Olguta, and several other local photographers who are volunteering their time and efforts, I am happy to share that we found a way to make ALL the families originally nominated as part of my campaign feel like winners! On Sunday, November 27, we are holding a Thanksgiving mini-session event so each family nominated can have their own mini photo shoot gifted to them! We are all so excited about this and I can't wait to share images from those amazing families later! I hope this story has helped inspire you to reach within, seek out your unique gifts, and give of those gifts to deserving people or organizations in your local community.
Lastly, did you know that only 4% of cancer funding goes toward childhood cancers? Just 4%... our children deserve more than 4%, wouldn't you agree?
Here are a few reputable national charities you can donate to today:
Words cannot even begin to express just how much gratitude my family and I have for Marie. She not only made us feel special, but genuinely cared for our comfort and style. It truly was an experience like no other. This photo shoot will always hold a special place in our hearts, as it was gifted to us in honor of our warrior princess battling cancer. Marie took time out of her schedule to create a beautiful day for us. I will definitely come back to her for more photo sessions in our future! God bless you for all that you have done for us.
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