Offering the ill a new flash of hope

September 13, 2007  |  Posted by Cassie Safrit

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- For terminally ill children, their hospital stay can be seen as a time of weakness and pain, but a program called Flashes of Hope is showing them in a new light.

Colby Byrd, 6, was surrounded by support as a photographer takes his picture. He's been battling leukemia for about four years.

"This stay, we've been here for three weeks. He had some side effects from one of the chemo drugs," said his mom, Melissa Byrd.

But at this moment, chemo is far from Colby's mind.

"This is wonderful. It's amazing. It gives the kids a chance to be funny, free," Byrd continued.

It's all part of a national program called Flashes of Hope. It partners with photographers, turning hospitals into studios, and patients into stars.

The Byrd family gets their picture taken. "Flashes of Hope is devoted to bringing out the beauty in children who are having a difficult time in their life," said Nancy Padgett, with Flashes of Hope.

The program also brings in makeup artists for an uplifting experience for weary parents.

"After about three weeks of not having makeup, to come in and just have people pamper you a little bit and make you feel special," added Byrd.

Each family receives free portraits, and Colby already has a plan for his pictures.

"Put them on the wall," he said.

For all the children who are photographed, these are lasting reminders of their strength through the hardships and the laughter that sustained them.

"We can go back years later and show him and talk about what was happening," said Byrd.

UNC-Chapel Hill Head Football Coach Butch Davis donated the money that started the Triangle chapter of Flashes of Hope. Davis gave the money at a national fundraiser before he was ever named head coach at Carolina.


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