Flashes of Hope is a nonprofit organization that changes the way children with cancer and other life threatening illnesses see themselves through the gift of photography while raising money for pediatric cancer research. The portraits, taken by award-winning photographers, help children feel better about their changing appearance by celebrating it. For families of terminally ill children, it's especially important to have a portrait that preserves forever the beauty, grace and dignity of their child. I am proud to serve as the director of the Indianapolis chapter of Flashes of Hope. Along with a great team of photographers, volunteers and stylists from Tyler-Mason Salon & Spa (the stylists for the Indianapolis Colts cheerleaders) we rotate each month between Peyton Manning Children's Hospital and Riley Hospital for Children. We also host a one day photo shoot for Camp Little Red Door at Bradford Woods. All families receive a wall enlargement, a set of proofs and a link to a website where they may view, share and download their images free of charge. At Flashes of Hope, our goal is to photograph every child until every child is cured.
How We Started
On the front page of The Indianapolis Star, in December 2008, I read an article about "Flashes of Hope." The article described "Flashes" as a group of volunteer photographers creating memories for families and bringing smiles to the faces of pediatric cancer patients. As a professional photographer for 32 years, I suddenly had what could only be described as a photographic epiphany. I had never "given back" before. Then in 2008, I got my chance. Capturing the expressions and personalities of children had always been a major portion of my career and therefore I spoke with the director of "Flashes" telling him I wanted to participate. I admitted to myself that there was one problem: I had always been uncomfortable in hospital environments. The first day left me with only one memory - a preteen girl, about my daughter's age, wearing a hospital mask, leaning on her mother's shoulder. She had lost most of her hair and appeared lethargic. I trusted no one noticed I was feeling a bit queasy, and then my mind flooded with visions of all those years photographing children - babies spitting up, toddlers clinging to their mothers, scowling teenagers, and parents with the word "stressed" written across their faces. But I had learned to coax them into smiling and I was passionate about it. Now I was looking into the beautiful faces of children who had no idea of the complexities of their medical condition or the anguish of their parents. All they wanted to do was to go home. But their tedious hospital regimen ended abruptly as photographers, stylists, and other volunteers arrived to turn their days of meds, chemo, needles and therapy into a celebration. This was going to be fun. In 2012, I had the good fortune of expanding the Indianapolis chapter to include The Indiana University Health Proton Therapy Center in Bloomington and Camp Little Red Door at Bradford Woods. As a lifelong resident of Indianapolis, I didn't hesitate to use established friendships to help nurture relationships with the The Indianapolis Colts, The Indiana Pacers and The Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Members of these organizations have willingly helped "Flashes of Hope" in myriad ways. The mission of "Flashes of Hope" is to change the way children with cancer see themselves. My company, Spotlight Photography, hosts an annual fund-raiser called "Princess For A Day" and I'm happy to report that the money raised for the Indianapolis chapter as well as pediatric cancer research increases each year. But I must also mention that it is not possible without the dedication of countless volunteers that make this all possible. I am incredibly proud to serve as the director of the Indianapolis Chapter of Flashes of Hope, a responsibility I hope to fulfill well into the future.