I recently met and photographed Jenny Cross and her two sons, Gavin, and Kamden for the Beauty Revived 50 Beautiful Children magazine celebrating them for their courage, strength, and kindness. This family is the lifeforce behind the non-profit organization Andy Cross – Whatever It Takes whose mission is “To do WHATEVER IT TAKES to provide encouragement, support, smiles, and financial relief to families impacted by cancer.” You can see their pictures and read their inspiring story here.
Jenny had a nomination come through for an incredibly deserving couple, Heidi and Zach. This young, vibrant, happy couple had some really big life changes happen within a pretty short time frame. They got engaged, Zach was diagnosed with MS, and Heidi was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer. During a time when most engaged couples are picking out flowers, trying on dresses, and finalizing guest lists, these two are battling life-altering and life-threatening illnesses. Jenny immediately called me to see if Whatever It Takes could hire me to take engagement pictures for Heidi and Zach. I absolutely love this organization and when I heard Heidi and Zach’s story, I was in! There was no way I was letting Jenny use funds to “hire” me, though. This was something I wanted to give and I knew there were plenty of other amazing things the organization could do with the money.
I was so excited when Heidi reached out to me to set up their engagement session. I could tell right away that she was a really sweet person and incredibly grateful for this gift. We got all of their session details arranged and picked out the perfect location. We wanted to get their session scheduled as soon as possible but the date we originally set ended up being around the same time that Heidi was scheduled for her chemo port surgery. We both agreed that we should reschedule because she didn’t really know what to expect or how she would feel after having the surgery and I wanted to make sure they were both feeling really well for their session. We picked another date and it ended up being the perfect evening for a beach session with a beautiful mix of clouds and color for a gorgeous sun-soaked backdrop.
When we met the night of their session, if I hadn’t known their story, I would have no idea these two were going through so much. Heidi and Zach were so vibrant, completely head over heels for each other, and so full of life and love. I loved chatting with them about how they met and how they got engaged. It was so nice to shower them with love and give them an evening just for them. Not for Heidi with cancer and Zach with MS. Just Heidi and Zach, two people full of life and love. One night where they could laugh, snuggle, kiss and not think about their illnesses but instead be in the moment celebrating their love for each other.
It makes my heart happy that I was able to gift Heidi and Zach this session and spend the evening getting to know them. I’m inspired by them and love that they aren’t letting their illnesses get in the way of living and loving to the fullest. We had so much fun and all three of us were soaked by the end of the session because Lake Michigan was warm and, much to my delight, they were adventurous enough to get in it. These two were so lovely and so natural in front of the camera. Honestly, if the sun hadn’t set, I could have continued photographing them for hours. I am so in love with their gallery and it will forever be one of my favorite sessions, not just because of the beautiful images but because of everyone who made it happen, all of the love that was shared, and because of the two incredible people in front of the camera.
Heidi and Zach, thank you so much for being so wonderful to work with. You are beautiful together!! I feel incredibly blessed to have been a small part of the journey you are on. I think about you daily and am always sending positive love-filled thoughts and prayers for strength and healing your way.
Britni, thank you so much for taking the time to nominate Heidi and Zach so all of this could happen!
Jenny and the rest of the team at Andy Cross – Whatever It Takes, thank you so much for connecting me with these two! I love your mission! You are doing so much good and spreading so much love to people who need it.
Behind the scenes, Jenny put together some really amazing personalized items for Heidi and Zach’s smile box. Once I sent her the images from their session, she went to work creating a beautiful album and framed print for them. Such a beautiful, thoughtful gift for a wonderful couple. Jenny’s two boys, Kamden and Gavin are always part of the process. They love helping pack, decorate, and deliver smile boxes! Please head over to the Andy Cross – Whatever It Takes facebook page to find out how you can support this organization or make a nomination.
Aislyn June Photography | Engagement Photography | email@example.com | Whitehall, MI