I apologize in advance as this is literally the longest blogpost EVER.
Back in Oct, I went to Orlando and DC to follow 50 "Champions" of the Children's Miracle Network. These 50 kids from all 50 states have either overcome, are living and coping with some kind of major illness or injury. For a whole week, these kids, their parents/siblings/grandparents were able to forget their daily struggles, even if for a week, and celebrate the children, the caretakers, and the sponsors who made the week literally, and utterly amazing. There were award ceremonies for the kids, the doctors, the generous donors, and for anyone and everyone involved. They were taken to Disneyworld countless times over 4 days. Got to participate in the parade as Grand Marshall, meet all the characters and just have a good time. And yeah, we got serenaded by David Archuletta a couple times. Got to meet Steve Young, the dude from Dukes of Hazaard, Mary Lou Retton, Merideth Vieira, Mark Wills, and Miss America. From Orlando, we boarded a Delta plane, specifically for the CMN. No security, we just drove up to the tarmac on buses and got on the plane. In DC, they went to various monuments, the White House (no Obama sadly), and got to participate in the changing of the guard at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The week was by far one of the most amazing experiences I've had as a father and photographer getting to know these kids and families. To learn of their lives, conditions, triumphs over diseases, and learning to have hope no matter what. NO.MATTER.WHAT.
You can get to know these "champions" a lot better on their site HERE.
I can not thank Aubrey (pictured last being hugged by the champions) & Miranda Children's Miracle Network enough for asking me out to come and do this. They played a larger role with their association with Primary Children's Hospital in Salt Lake City when our Weston was there for his heart condition. I jumped at the opportunity to give back. When they contacted me, they told me previous photographers were commercial shooters who lacked "warmth" and hoped I could bring that to their images. I tried my best.
Also a HUGE thank you to Kodak for generously providing the film to document this event. It was all shot on Kodak Portra 400, Portra 160 and Portra 800. The BW was Illford Delta 3200. And for the camera geeks, this was shot on Contax 645's with 80mm, 140mm, 45mm, and 120mm lenses. I brought the 35mm and the 210 but they never left the bag. I also used a Holga with a Nikon SB80.
And to Richard Photo Lab for providing the masterful processing and scanning of these images. They are such a crucial step in the process of making these images and I want to make sure everyone knows it is they who make me look so good.
A big thank you to Tavis Johnson for coming and assisting me on this trip. Wild, wild adventures with a native american and a grizzly bear.
And I can't post this without thanking my wife, Callie, who whole-heartedly supported me going and doing this shoot 10 days after our son Kalani was born. I have no regrets of going but I will say it was damn good to come home to my wife and kids. Yeah, my wife is super woman and is going straight to heaven, no questions asked.
If you are still reading this blogpost, I'd ask that you go find something you truly believe in, something that makes you want to be a better person. Go and give of your time and talents you have in anyway. There is no better feeling in this world than giving back and helping others. It is what life is really all about really...