About a month ago I reached out to the organization Little Wishes™...they are an amazing nonprofit in which Riley had been a previous recipient during treatment. My desire was not only to thank them for the amazing princess dress she had received but to offer a partnership...to find a way to merge our work. They gift, I shoot. It seemed like a natural fit win/win situation so I looked up their email address typed my little heart out and hit send. Within minutes and I mean MINUTES I received the kindest email from the Little Wishes Co-Founder and President wanting to set up a call. I was thrilled. I was on the right track. I was in no way anticipating the truly amazing connection this "shot in the dark" would turn out to be.
Their Mission: (direct from their website)
Little Wishes™ grants requests of limited dollar amounts but of significant value to seriously ill children during their hospitalization. These children’s treatments can often be rigorous, painful, and the effects lasting – both physically and mentally. The delivery of a modest gift greatly eases hospitalized children’s pain and serves to improve their spirits and outlook during their hospitalization. Little Wishes™ asks the hospitalized children what brings them joy and what they feel passionate about.
Their Impact: (direct from me)
The Founders are pediatric nurses so more than most they really do know this world that I both live in and document. It shows in the work that they do and the amount of passion and dedication that goes into their cause. Laura and I immediately forged one of those "we HAD to have known each other in a past life" bonds. Our scheduled call (which might I add I was nervous and feeling like I was going to have to "pitch") turned into a total ramble sesh that had it been recorded not a human alive would have believed we hadn't been childhood pals. She got me. I got her. I knew that our missions would compliment each other but our souls...that you just can't predict.
Laura has now become one of my biggest supporters...reaching out to other hospitals making introductions, answering every ridiculous question I throw at her regarding this whole nonprofit world, gushing over videos of Riley being Riley and all in is just a loud and proud cheerleader of my work. If I forget for a moment that what I am doing matters I can be assured that a note will be coming from her to remind me it does. I am beyond grateful for this incredible woman who I have still yet to meet face to face.
Naturally it made sense for my very own Riley to kick off our first partner shoot...which reminds me...their program isn't a "one-time" deal...children are eligible every 2 weeks for a Wish. Amazing. For someone like Riley who gets infusions every 4 weeks...having a gift to look forward to each visit changes the entire tone of "hospital day".
Sheer joy is really the only way to describe the moment. She felt special, not sick. She was excited, not scared. To capture her moment and our missions all at the same time was a gift. As I scroll through images of that day the reality is still there...you can watch the progression as her excitement fades back into the reality that is treatment. Her journey is not easy but it it eased by others...others who support her, others who love her and others who answered the call to make a difference and grant her Little Wishes™.
Endless thank yous to Laura, her entire all volunteer staff and the Child Life team at UCSF Benioff Childrens Hospital.
To learn more about Little Wishes™ visit www.littlewishes.org.