ST. PETERSBURG – It is always a group effort when Flashes of Hope arrives at All Children's Hospital in downtown St. Pete. From the professional photographer who volunteers to the students from the Aveda Institute who apply makeup to the young patients themselves, each person has a vital role.
Flashes of Hope was founded by Allison Clarke in Cleveland, Ohio, in 2001. Clarke's son, Quinn, was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 2. While Quinn was undergoing treatment, he lost a friend, named Mandwell, he had met in the hospital. Mandwell's family had no pictures of the child, which in turn made Clarke realize that she didn't have any of Quinn either.
Within three weeks, Clarke started Flashes of Hope. The mission is simple: to photograph every child with a life-threatening illness until every child is cured.
Currently, there are more than 40 chapters around the U.S. Dana Hudepohl, the co-director of the Tampa Bay chapter, said in an email, "My favorite part of working with Flashes of Hope is interacting with the families.
"I love watching the kids smile and laugh."
Each chapter organizes photo shoots at local children's hospitals with professional photographers who volunteer their services. The families of the young patients are also invited to join in on the fun.
After the shoots, the family receives copies of all the photos in a leather-bound album as well as two 8x10 prints handpicked by the photographer.
Fortunately for the Tampa Bay chapter, there's a little something extra when families participate at All Children's Hospital. The Aveda Institute is only a few blocks away, so a group of students is always on hand to pamper the parents and make the children feel as beautiful as they are.
"The photography is important because it is the end result, but it all starts over here," Roy Adams said as he motioned toward the group of Aveda students pampering mother and child. Adams is a public information officer at the hospital.
Little girls were getting their nails painted, while little boys were getting their hair gelled. One dad even got his dreadlocks touched up.
Aveda links up with Flashes of Hope on a monthly basis to bring both smiles and memories.
Rosa Jackson, her 9-year-old daughter and 2-year-old granddaughter took part in the photo shoot. "I appreciate them taking out the time to show the kids little things that make them feel nice and happy," said Jackson. "They felt like little diva, glamour girls."