When I sat down to interview Jan and Andy Thrower several weeks ago for a piece I was doing on Childhood Cancer Awareness Month for my other big girl job, I instantly made a connection. Their son, Anderson, was diagnosed with cancer in 2009 when he was only two years old. Whereas my family did everything but collapse in on itself when my sister was diagnosed with cancer in 2010, the Throwers did something completely different. They were inspired by their journey to start aTeam Ministries, a nonprofit dedicated to providing financial, spiritual and emotional support to children undergoing treatment at Children's of Alabama.
If you've never been on the pediatric cancer journey, you can't imagine what a nightmare it is. Hospital rooms and long, terror-ridden nights. I can remember holding my little sister sobbing while watching St. Jude's infomercials at 5 a.m. Holding her down while she screamed as doctors poked and prodded her. To this day, I still have bad dreams about those times and there is nothing in this world I am more afraid of than her cancer coming back.
The Throwers went through the same thing with Anderson. But instead of focusing that pain inward, Jan and Andy turned around and threw themselves into helping families who were going through the same thing, but who weren't as fortunate to have the means and the support system that they did.
It's awe-inspiring. Seriously. So of course, I wanted to be involved. I gave Andy and Jan my card and told them to call me if they ever needed a photographer for anything. It's so funny how God connects you to people when he does. They immediately asked me what my plans were for the following Thursday night.
One of aTeam's biggest fundraisers is an event called Heart2HeART. They host it each February and they pair up a local artist with a child with pediatric cancer. Together, the artists and the children work to create unique pieces that are then auctioned off at Heart2HeART to raise funding for the ministry. Last week, they hosted a dinner where they introduced the artists to the children they would be working with for Heart2HeART 2016 and asked if I would be interested in shooting some photos for their program.
Interested is of course an understatement for me. I spent the night hanging out with some of the cutest kids, hearing stories of strength and courage beyond your imagination and snapping some awesome photos.