Flashes of Hope capture moments in time for local children fighting life-limiting illnesses

January 30, 2013  |  Posted by Linda Hurtado

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - A program is capturing a moment in time for sick children in our local hospitals. For one teenager, Flashes of Hope put a smile on her face on a very special day, and gave her family a priceless memory that will live on forever.

"It feels weird cause I have eyelashes right now."

Celina Cook just turned Sweet 16, celebrating with balloons and presents. Today she's getting more special gifts: A makeover and studio-quality portraits with her mom, Susie. They haven't done this since she was seven years old.”

But this is not your typical portrait studio. It's the seventh floor of All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, Celina's home for the last three months. She's getting treatments for acute myeloid leukemia. “On my toughest days I've been to the ICU with heart problems. The less tough days I've been sick in bed and unable to do anything.”

Celina is one of 230 children hospitalized here on any given day with life-limiting illnesses.

Flashes of Hope, a non profit group, organizes these special photo sessions - with the help of local volunteers like make-up artist Brooke and photographer CJ. It’s a national organization that has set up 7500 photo sessions with sick children at no cost to their families.

“Our life is up in the air so to have someone come and do our hair for us, do our makeup and take pictures of us it's like being spoiled and it’s something Celina deserves.”

And something moms like Susie can remember forever. Celina is in remission, but not all the children survive.

Marc Silbiger is with the Tampa Bay chapter of Flashes of Hope. “The value is incredible because it’s a remembrance of a joyful moment in time that they can always think back to.”

Celina says, “I was able to smile and I wasn't sick today, so today was really one of my good days.”

By the way, Celina is doing so well - she's going home today.

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