February 27, 2008 | Posted by Tom Schadd
Non-profit agency brings smiles to those who need them most
Flashes of Hope is a non-profit group that specializes in recording history for families - at a time when their need is greatest.
"I found that while the camera does not express the soul, perhaps a photograph can."
At a family's darkest hour, photography gives a flash of hope.
This is a mission of joy for the photographers and staff of Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters. And it's simple: children with terminal illness are photographed with their families.
"I literally broke down and cried and cried and cried."
Melia Trost had different feelings the day she found out her teenage daughter Samantha had bone cancer. She says, "I can remember driving in the car....I remember really being angry....I was numb..Literally numb."
Her daughter Samantha Trost, a cancer patient says, "My mom told me I had cancer and I told her to shut up...This isn't something to joke around with."
"I remember traveling, doing work with the school...Beating the steering wheel I was so angry..And I had to realize I can do this to Sam..We've got to make this a positive experience in such a horrible crisis," recalls Melia.
In this case strength came from hope. Melia heard of Flashes of Hope and started a Norfolk chapter one year ago.
"For a moment in time you forget everything that's going on around you and you get to feel good for once."
Now, that moment in time is frozen, but there's a warmth that comes from many of these images.
Melia Trost brought Jennifer and Jason Lightfoot in Chesapeake photographic treasures of their 4-year-old daughter Sky. Sky was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. Her blonde locks are gone now, but her signature smile remains, with a view of life that is much bigger than other children her age.
"She just eats up the photo opportunities....She can't stop smiling...She's our little celebrity," says Jennifer, Sky's mother.
The photos reveal childlike joy that spreads among adults.
Part of the magic comes from the lens. The view of Photographer Tom Gorman.
"You just try to capture the eyes...The hope and excitement and joy that they have," explains Tom.
Someone once said a picture is worth a thousand words, but faces can teach us more.
So far the Norfolk chapter has taken pictures of 126 children and their families within its first year of operation.
Donate now and brighten the lives of children with cancer.
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