Personally, Valentine's day is such an important day in my life for many reasons. It's the day my husband asked me to be his girlfriend over 14 years ago in my tiny dorm room at UNC in Chapel Hill and it is also the day my little sister got engaged over a candlelit dinner. For as long as I could remember my little sister couldn't wait to get married. One halloween we went as a bride and groom. She was the bride, and I got to wear a fake mustache as her groom. It was quite humorous. I always reminded her I was her first groom! She was a tough girl, but when she loved someone, she loved them so fully and so deeply. In October of 2013, one day before her 27th birthday, she was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer, she was dating at the time. Throughout her battle she would always say, no one will ever want to marry me, no one will want to marry a sick person. It broke her heart and mine because I knew how badly she wanted to be someone's wife. So I was beyond grateful the day she called me to say her boyfriend had proposed to her on Valentine's Day 2014, and even more excited when she asked me to be her matron of honor! They had a year and a half long engagement as she worked through her double mastectomy, chemo, and reconstruction. They married in October 2015, two days after she turned 30, during a rare hurricane that struck the NJ shore (that's a story for another day!). It was one of the most happiest I have ever seen her despite the crazy rain on her wedding day! She beamed with pride, confidence, and beauty. It is a memory I will keep close to my heart forever. My sister went on to fight another year, making it to her honeymoon in Hawaii for her one year anniversary, and then she started to get really sick. She passed away in January 2017. There is a whole in my heart and I miss her very much.
Some people dislike Valentine's Day but I am reminded this Valentine's Day to honor the ones I love and I am grateful to be given a special day every year to do just that. It's not just about celebrating love with a crush, a boy/girlfriend, or a partner/husband/wife. Valentine's Day reminds us all to spend a little extra time to make sure the ones we love know how much they are cared for and appreciated. It because of all of this that I wanted to show, not only my clients my appreciation for them, but also honor my sister on her special day, so I decided to create a Valentine's Day Client Appreciation Fundraising Event. This was a special event, with special low pricing, created to give back to my clients as a thank you for their loyalty and support in trusting me with their family heirlooms; to give back to the Wilmington community, which has been kind to my family and business all while raising funds, in honor of my sister, for an amazing organization, Going Beyond The Pink, which provides, breast health and education before, during, and after a cancer diagnosis to the local Wilmington area.
Going Beyond The Pink, is a non-profit organization in Wilmington, NC, that was recently established in 2017. Going Beyond the Pink is a breast health and education initiative dedicated to offering educational programs and resources before, during, and after a breast cancer diagnosis. They offer educational programs as well as post-diagnosis support resources like wigs, bras, breast prostheses, hats, scarves, and care bags. I had met their board president, Kara Kenan, several years ago, in 2013, when I interviewed her and took her portrait for Run for the TaTas. At that time I was working for Go Time Race Management as a race coordinator and event photographer. Mrs. Kenan was going through her own personal cancer journey at the time. We connected personally during that interview and stayed in contact over facebook. When I saw she had started this new chapter of her life, I just knew I had to find a way to support it. What they are doing for the community here in Wilmington is just amazing! I couldn't think of a better way to honor my sister, give back to the Wilmington community, and to give back to my clients than to do this special event.
Five families participated in the event - some repeat clients, some old clients, and some new clients. I enjoyed welcoming them into my studio and working with their children, knowing I was giving so much to their family, the Wilmington community, the breast cancer community, honoring my sister, and filling facebook feeds up with beautiful portraits of smiling happy children reminding us all to love a little more deeply that day!
Here's a look at all the wonderful children who participated in the event and helped me raise money for Going Beyond the Pink. Head over to my facebook page, under the photos tab, and hit like to show those parents how much you appreciate their support for breast cancer as well! Or if you prefer instagram, head here!
Just this past Monday I met up with Going Beyond Pink's Board President, Kara Kenan, to present her with the donation and to see Going Beyond Pink's main office. This year I was able to donate $100 and hope to be able to contribute more in the future! She was beyond grateful for my contribution. I am so grateful to all the families who participated in my first, but hopefully not my last, Client Appreciation Fundraising Event!
Don't forget to join my newsletter to hear about other upcoming events and opportunities!
Thank you all again for your continued support and appreciation!