PHOTO STORY  |  08.26.14

It's not every day that you meet a giant who stands close to 4 feet tall and is only 4 years old.  But that's exactly what happened last Christmas season when I met Addie.  My first moments during our time together I could tell something was bothering Addie, but I didn't find out what until after we were done capturing Santa photos.  "Tell Caleb about your special place you get to go to" is what comes to mind as I can still hear her mom describing Addie's fight with leukemia.  Even today I feel the emotion just as real as I did in that moment.  Of course, as a professional I smiled while inside my heart was breaking.

Fast forward.  Addie has been doing fantastic!  I reached out to her mom, Danielle, earlier this summer to do a photo story on one of my heroes.  I don't say that lightly.  And boy did Addison's story shine through despite the darkness.

I wasn't out of my car for 2 minutes before Addie showed me her port.  What is usually thought of by most as something terrible, for Addie it was a life saver.  It symbolizes life, not all of the pain she had to go through.  I learned a valuable lesson, and I had only captured one image.

As our time progressed, what I saw was an energetic and fun little girl surrounded by a family that loves her dearly.  Addie is adventurous for sure, has tons of energy, and of course a smile that can make even the coldest hearts smile back.  Of course, I also wanted to show how silly she is and can be, and she didn't disappoint!

The biggest lesson that my 4 foot giant taught me was about courage.  Courage to face even the darkest of times.  Courage to smile despite stormy circumstances.  I thought that I knew a lot about smiles before our time together.  However, Addison taught me that there's so much more to learn.  Her beads of courage were enough to wrap around both of us multiple times.  Each bead symbolized a treatment, visit, and yes even needle pricking.

Addison, thanks for teaching me more about this terrible condition we know as leukemia.  But more importantly thank you for smiling while my heart was breaking.

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