Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Model Inspiration

I'm in Houston for meetings right now. Traveling and fundraising in another city can be quite the challenge at times. It's time away from my family, exhausting travel, and jammed packed days with meetings. On Sunday night, I looked at my suitcase preparing for my trip with a lot of guilt (leaving my family) and anticipation, and anxiety. I just knew I would be exhausted when I returned on Wednesday. Yes, I'm exhausted. However, I'm leaving tomorrow morning with so much excitement and inspiration from my two days here in Houston and the love I have for this great city.

I spent the morning with some amazing people at an amazing place. In preparation for our inpending Heroes and Handbags event in Houston, our chair Mary Lou Fernandez set up a photo shoot. The models? Patients of Texas Children's Cancer Center. The photographer? Very cool guy. The props? Oh so beautiful handbags! The end result? Pure magic. Cannot wait to share with you (of course, after I see them myself!).

The goal of these photos are to use them for our event, invitations for the event, website, and even for large press coverage in PaperCity. Elaine Turner Handbags has so very graciously joined us in our efforts (can I tell you how much I love her bags? Love. them.). Armed with more than 20 or 25 handbags to choose from, we began our work at Texas Children's to photograph some amazing children. Let me tell you about our models today....

Our first was Evan. He's two and a half with Rhabdomyosarcoma of the bladder. He has completed more than seven months of chemotherapy with another three left on the horizon. Then starts his surgery process. He's bald. He loves monster trucks. And he isn't afraid to stick his head in a large green tote bag to see if he is missing anything. He's gorgeous. Oh, and his smile? Melted my heart every time.

Next came Vincent. Born with cancer, Vincent turned three months old today. I didn't find out exactly what the form of cancer he had. However, it was not hard to miss that he had major surgery recently, removing his left ear and leaving a portion of the side of his face concave. And he can only smile on the right side of his mouth as he has lost feeling on the right. Vincent is undergoing chemo at this time and will eventually have plastic surgery to reconstruct an ear for him when he is better. His photos included him INSIDE a blue and white handbag as well as nestled in his mother's arms with a handbag slung across her shoulder. So sweet and beautiful.

A social worker poked her head in and asked if we would be interested in any teens for the photo session. Fully ready to photograph a young lady, we waited for our next model. And in HE walked. Humberto, an eighteen year old cancer SURVIVOR ready to finish his senior year of high school, was in the clinic for a check up (after over a year and a half of Lymphoma treatment). And he wasn't afraid to have his picture taken with some handbags. We loaded him up with four or five on each arm and let him hold them up muscle man style. It was so fun! What a good sport he was.

While waiting to see who else would be coming in to the clinic and feeling well enough to be photographed (sadly, one of our scheduled models received some bad news and left before the shoot), we decided to pull in some of our social workers. All of them had come to visit once they found out we were camped up at the clinic for the photo session. In between camera flashes, we had visited about recent patients HFC has helped and the services we provide. My heart swelled with pride every time they so sweetly thanked me and all of Heroes for Children for our work for their families. Four beautiful women that I adore, admire, and deeply respect very reluctantly agreed to have their pictures taken with the handbags. Brett, our photographer, got them all grouped together with coordinating handbags and a little sassy attitude. I stood there watching them giggle as they were being photographed with a huge grin on my face. I love the social workers we work with. They are truly some of my greatest heroes.

Heroes are all around the hospitals we work with. Today, I got to meet another hero for oncology patients. Dr. Dryer has been with the Cancer Center at Texas Childrens since her days as an intern. She is well respected, energectic, and kind. And boy does she ever look great with a lab coat, stethoscope, and fabulous handbags! Dr. Dryer was so sweet to let us photograph her today! With all she has to do with her position at the hospital, she took the time to meet with me and learn about Heroes for Children (the social workers were bragging about HFC right before we met) and even act as a model. And my biggest connection with her? She is apart of the leukemia research team studying infant leukemia. Yeah, we bonded. Definitely a big hero.

Now it was time to photograph a girl! Denise was up next. At six years old, Denise took great pride in being a big sister. She told us all about her younger sister and her role as the big sis. She was the perfect little model with a gentle expression and sweet smile. I could have just eaten her up.

Then it was time to wait. Layla was coming, but she was on her way. Just a little late. Let me tell you, Layla was worth the wait. Just shy of two, she is a precious child. With nothing but whisps of hair left, Layla was one of the most beautiful children. At first, she was scared with our set up. There were many people in the room and she thought she was going to be examined or poked. She cried. But Brett worked his magic and Layla's mom stuck by her side. The two photographed together. Soon, we started seeing smiles behind the pacifier. She was a perfect model!

We ended the day with a visit to see Nathaniel in his hospital room, the young man that Christi worked with in December for our Heroes Milestones event. Nathaniel is not doing well, but his strength is keeping him here with his family. His mother was sweet and thanked us again for Nathaniel's party. He was fairly out of it, opening his eyes only on occassion, or giving quick responses. When we asked him if he liked the fireworks, he weakly gave us a big thumbs up.

And with that, Mary Lou, Christi, and I bid Nathaniel and his mom goodbye. The three of us cried to the elevator and hugged.

What an inspiring day. What amazing heroes.


Brett said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brett said...

Yes, it was a beautiful day, indeed. We have posted the images to our studio blog, take a look!

-Brett Chisholm, Houston Photographer

Link to our Studio Blog

Leap'n Lizzie said...

Glad to see the wonderful work you all do. My daughter has infant Leukemia. We live in AL, but was wondering if any paarent out there with the same diagnosis was interested in emailing me. She is preparing for transplant. Please pray.
Liz http://littleleaps.wordpress.com/