Fighter Provides Flashes of Hope- Charlotte Observer

April 04, 2008  |  Posted by Sari Monaco

Bruce dedicates time to children with cancer

Bev Neely Bruce of Weddington was napping with the TV on after cancer treatment in June 2006.
She perked up when she heard CNN was doing a piece on Flashes of Hope, a nonprofit dedicated to "providing powerful, uplifting portraits of children fighting cancer and other life threatening illnesses."

Fast-forward almost two years, and now Bruce is director of the group's Charlotte chapter.

"This is something that would have interested me anyway, but having the connection of knowing how the kids feel and just wanting to be normal" sparked something in Bruce, who is battling her own disease and calls herself a "cancer survivor, fighter."

Two years ago, there were four Flashes of Hope chapters in the country. Now there are 20.

The first photo shoot for the Charlotte chapter took place March 19 at Presbyterian Hemby Children's Hospital in Charlotte.

It was in front of the lens of Deborah Triplett, accompanied by stylist Heather Hawkins.

Father Lawrence Womack of St. Martin's Episcopal Church blessed the project and the children it will serve.

"I express to the kids this is a strong time in your life. Seventy-five percent will be survivors and this is not a sad time, it's a time where we can help them celebrate," Bruce says.

For a photo shoot, the child just has to be a current patient at Presbyterian Hemby Children's Hospital. Bruce jokes, "Famed photographer Annie Leibovitz was in Charlotte right around the corner shooting pictures of (presidential candidate Barack) Obama! I can now claim that I've gotten her closest to any (Flashes of Hope) shoot than any other chapter director in the country!"

The following morning, Bruce and national chapter Director Lisa Cencula trekked to the middle of North Carolina and met at Victory Junction Gang Camp at Randleman, founded by NASCAR family Pattie and Kyle Petty in honor of their late son Adam. The Pettys' camp is part of an umbrella group called Hole in the Wall Camps.

Victory Junction caters to kids with every kind of health issue. Because of that meeting, Bruce is now the chapter director for Flashes of Hope at Victory Junction Gang Camp.

The first photo shoot will take place June 24 during the camp's Cancer Week.

"This is the first major camp shoot for FOH in a Hole in the Wall Gang Camp affiliate and I am extremely proud to be a part of it," Bruce says.

Photo shoots will be held each month at Hemby Children's Hospital and at Victory Junction Gang Camp this summer.

People magazine is scheduled to feature an article, on newsstands this week, on Flashes of Hope national director Allison Clarke.

A video of the shoot can be seen at under Charlotte chapter news. To learn more about the groups, call 704-904-7280.

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