heart to heART gala 2011 benefitting aTeam Ministries

Some of you know that when our daughter was four years old we spent some time with her in Children’s Hospital and she had follow ups in Clinic 8. Thankfully Olivia is completely healed, but I made a vow to the Lord back then that somehow, someway I would try to use my photography in the way of ministry for these families that have to spend more time there and deal with much more we ever had to. Brad and I had a small taste of complete brokenheartedness over our own child’s short illness, but the Lord healed our broken hearts and allowed us to move on. However, there are so many families still out there in the thick of the journey every single day. Over the last year, getting to know Andy and Jan Thrower, I realized that their ministry might just be the direction the Lord was leading me to fulfill the promise I had made to him.

aTeam Ministries, founded by Andy and Jan Thrower, is a non-profit organization focused on providing emotional, spiritual, and financial support to families going through the journey of dealing with oncology or hematology related diseases in children.

Andy and Jan are our back door neighbors and we are in Sunday School class together at Shades Mountain Baptist. They know firsthand what it is like and how it feels to have a child diagnosed with cancer. The Thrower’s son, Anderson, was diagnosed with ALL (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia) January 6, 2009. Since that time, Anderson continues to receive weekly lab work, monthly chemo injections, and daily oral chemo at home. The Thrower’s saw from that day of initial diagnosis there needed to be a support organization for families. As a result, aTeam Ministries was created to provide “frontline” support to families going through the Oncology or Hematology related disease journey.

Last month I had the great pleasure of photographing the “heart to heART gala 2011” sponsored by Gene and Jonna Chizik, which was held at Shoal Creek Country Club. What an incredible event! Over the course of this last year, 10 encology/hematology pediatric patients worked alongside local fine artists and created their own paintings based on their personalities. I had the opportunity to photograph one four year old little girl named Lindsey who painted with my friend Dirk Walker who owns The Loretta Goodwin Gallery. She is quite a remarkable, well spoken child! I brought along my four year old son Luke for the experience and he was mesmerized by them painting. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him that still! He and Lindsey even got into a little friendly Alabama/Auburn banter because Lindsey is a huge Auburn fan and was painting a portrait of Aubie. After the kids created their paintings, the artists then created paintings based on their inspiration from spending time with these amazing kids. All of the paintings were then auctioned off in both live and silent auctions the night of the Gala to raise money for aTeam Ministries.

I’d like to share with you the 7 minute slideshow of photos from the Gala. At the end of the slideshow are images of the kids and their siblings just dancing, smiling and having a great time while the auction was going on, forgetting they had a care in the world! That was the highlight of the night for me!

I’m also including a short 5 minute video about aTeam and what they do. I have been completely blessed to be a tiny part of it. It’s a great ministry to support and pray for! The verse they claim is II Corinthians 1: 3-4. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and God of all encouragement, who encourages us in our every affliction, so that we may be able to encourage those who are in any affliction with the encouragement with which we ourselves are encouraged by God.” They are doing just that!

Here’s the slideshow of photos from the Gala:

http://heatherdurhamphotography.com/viewing/?slideshowID=144164

Here’s the informational video about aTeam Ministries:

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