Monday, May 7, 2012

♥ In Honor and Memory of Marvin ♥

Some of you may remember last month when I announced having my very first Epiphany and had not yet disclosed the catalyst. Well, it hit pretty dang hard at first as my heart weighed heavy and tears rolled down my face so I needed time to reflect and realize the power of what it is that I do. Yes! I discovered something much deeper. Take a moment to read my story and you will understand. ♥

I have known since the day Vanessa Wiley Thompson cried her eyes out when I played her DVD of Keely's first photo session that I had the ability to create tears, smiles, laughter, and forever capture the meaningful moments and deep emotions of those who stood before my lens. Vanessa and Keely were my very first clients and it was Vanessa's words of encouragement and belief that planted the seed that has allowed me to touch the hearts of so many.

I know many of you know about the courageous journey Keely has been on the last 3 years fighting her battle with Leukemia. The day I visited her in Clinic was a day I had to overcome a fear.

--My mission... was to document and tell her story. 

--My goal... was to bring laughter, smiles and lift the gloom and sadness even if just for a little while. (After all, LAUGHTER IS THE BEST MEDICINE right??) 

--My medium... was he{ART}! 

--My fear... was what people would think about me photographing and smiling when there was so much sadness and heartache that surrounded me. 

Well, something inside me said Make it Happen! I look back now and have no godly idea what I was even preparing to do or what was gonna come of it all. I had stopped at Michaels and grabbed a bunch of art supplies with the idea of dressing up the IV pole and making a character out of it to essentially distract from the god awful IV Bag! I entered with my stomach full of nerves and uncertain how to create the environment I was dreaming of. Turns out all I had to do was provide the suggestion and the right tools! The rest just unfolded due to the hearts of the individuals in the room. This could not have been planned.

 The fun and laughter began. YES! Fun & Laughter in the clinic. Even the nurses joined in and Keely then wanted to share her joy with the other kids and everyone around her. 


We experienced laughter to the point of tears!! It was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever been blessed to be a part of and I will tell you WHY!

 That day I witnessed the MOST BEAUTIFUL act by a sweet and tender soul. As Keely shared her funny face that was drawn on her cute little bald head, a little boy approached and kissed her on the head. It brought such a SMILE to this boy’s face that the parents came up to us and said that was the first time Marvin had SMILED in months. WOW! 
 It was Marvin’s first day at Clinic as he was just recently diagnosed with leukemia. I knew that day the power of what had just happened but I never imagined the depth and meaning it would have 3 years later.  I can now look back and say, that was ARTREACH 4 KIDS before I even dreamed of it. But here is the real punch to the he{ART} of the matter. I learned last month that Marvin relapsed during treatment and lost his battle. My heart just sunk. I am always so full of hope and belief that I never even imagined that was a possibility.

I have talked about this beautiful face for 3 years and the story has lived on the walls of my studio for all this time. He was always ALIVE IN MY MIND and I will never forget that SMILE. The part that made me cry for days was when I remembered his parents telling us that was the first time he had smiled in months. I thought to myself...Not only did my decision to show up to clinic that day lead the chain of events that would generate this SMILE , but also that I was there to witness and capture forever one of his LAST SMILES.
Following my passion and desire in using the medium of he{ART} to inspire the hearts of others and provide an emotional outlet was proven to be invaluable that day.

And so an EPIPHANY was born ! The realization of the POWER OF A SMILE. The realization that my whole life people have been telling me TO SMILE and now I get it. The realization that what I do with my life is MAKE PEOPLE SMILE. I choose this because when I can make them SMILE it makes my heart SMILE. 

So in closing I want to leave you all with this. Understand the value of a SMILE. It costs you nothing to give it but could be invaluable to the person who receives it. SMILES truly are contagious and you just never know had badly someone may need one. So just try it. SMILE today at someone you do not know. Chances are they will SMILE back but if not, it doesn’t even matter. You will feel good and you will have made that person feel good even if they are unable to show it. 

I will be working in the near future towards bringing he{ART} into the clinics to help the kids and families through these difficult times. In honor and memory of Marvin I would like to start {FUN}DS 4 SMILES and start a photographic series of these smiling faces. For the first time I have a personal project that inspires the deepest part of my soul. That will be a new chapter once I have finished writing the current one. Keep you posted! To see more photos click here : Album

Alex Amra, owner of Tobacco Road Sports Cafe currently has a fundraising campaign for Keely as a candidate for Man of the Year. If you wish to support this cause to help win the battle against cancer, donations are greatly appreciated. Learn more HERE.

Don't forget to make someone SMILE today :) You never know just how much they may need it or if it may be their last.


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