I was so excited to be chosen for the Beauty Revived 50 Beautiful Children Campaign again this year. This is an amazing campaign and I’m so proud to be part of it for the second year. It’s so in line with what I do with my Dreamcatcher Project but on an international scale working with an amazing team of photographers from across the world and with a gorgeous magazine feature. Michelle Johansen Gifford started Beauty Revived in 2014 to celebrate women with true beauty that is earned through courage, strength, and kindness. Since then this campaign has grown to include women, children, high school seniors, mothers, families, and teachers. Beauty Revived now has thousands of followers from across the world. It’s such an honor to be part of this campaign and I’m so excited to share the following story and images with you all.
Back in May, we took nominations for children with true beauty, the kind of beauty that is earned. We looked for children who inspire others through kindness, strength, courage, helping those around them, and serving their communities through good deeds. We looked for children who think of others before themselves. Children who shine bright and stand out from the crowd because of their big hearts and ability to spread joy and love through acts of kindness and selflessness. Children who even in the face of illness show courage and strength.
We had some amazing nominations come through and I’m so excited to introduce to you the two boys that I was able to photograph and write about for the Beauty Revived magazine. As soon as I read their nomination, I knew I needed to meet them and photograph them regardless of whether or not they were chosen for the magazine.
MEET KAMDEN AND GAVIN.
WHATEVER IT TAKES. These are the words that have motivated Kamden, Gavin, and their mom, Jenny, since the day their dad, Andy, was diagnosed with cancer when the boys were just two years old. When he was diagnosed, Andy made a promise that “Whatever it takes, is what we will do.” These words have carried them through immense heartache and instilled in them the desire to do good in the world no matter what it takes.
For two years, their dad battled cancer. Jenny told me that during those two years from the ages of two to four, the boys wanted to do anything they could to help make their daddy feel better, everything from snuggling with him, making him a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and begging relentlessly to have their heads shaved so they could look just like daddy and show him how much they loved him.
The boys were four years old when their dad passed away from cancer. From that moment on, Jenny made it her goal to raise Gavin and Kamden to be amazing, extraordinary individuals and to continue their fight against cancer as a family. They started an organization in Andy’s name to help others who are impacted by cancer. Jenny told me, “We wanted to help those that were going through the same thing we were.” With that, Andy Cross – Whatever It Takes, Inc. was created. Their very personal mission is “To do WHATEVER IT TAKES to provide encouragement, support, smiles, and financial relief to families impacted by cancer.”
Kamden and Gavin jumped full force into the mission of the organization. They told their mom, “If we can make one person smile for one second, no matter what is going on in life, we have blessed them.” From this, the Smile Box was born with one simple mission, to help others smile. Smile Boxes are personalized for each person that is nominated. The boys help with the shopping, packing, and box decorating that goes into every single Smile Box. Boxes are filled with all kinds of items. Some items are for fun, like coloring books, games, movie tickets, and stuffed animals. Other items are to help them get through this hardship with a bit more ease, like gift cards for gas and food. Smile Boxes are shipped to nominees all over the country. Through their organization, they also adopt families for the holidays, deliver goody baskets to the cancer center, and do so many other things to help families that are going through the very same hardships they went through. Over the past four years, almost 400 individuals and families have been served by their organization!
Being part of such a strong love-filled mission, has shown Gavin and Kamden, now eight years old, just how much of a blessing they can be to others. They’ve learned that, yes, they have pain and heartache but they can take their own experiences from that pain and heartache and turn it into something beautiful to share with others. Whether it’s part of the work they do through their organization or in their everyday lives at school and in their community, these boys are busy spreading love and kindness to as many people as possible.
Jenny told me the boys have never sat idly by feeling sorry for their themselves but they are always asking, “What can we do? How can we help?” She continued, “They are not ones to stand for kids bullying one another. If they see or hear that someone is being bullied, they go and help that child. They stand up for what they believe is right and they stand up for those they love. They know that the simplest act of kindness can be the greatest impact on someone’s day. They know their actions and their words can do great things.”
When I met with them, Jenny was telling me a bit about the past and how her and Andy found out they were pregnant for the boys when they least expected it. The boys have always been a blessing and with Andy being gone, she told me, “They are the spitting image of Andy and his personality. God definitely had a plan when these two were born.”
While planning for their photo shoot, I asked Jenny what interests the boys had. When she told me that Gavin and Kamden were really into superheroes and had a whole arsenal of superhero costumes, props, and toys, I wasn’t surprised one bit. After all, these two brave, kindhearted boys and their fearless leader aren’t just ordinary people. They are real life superheroes who possess the most effective superpower of all. Love.
I loved meeting Jenny, Kamden, and Gavin and spending the evening having fun and photographing them for the magazine. Before we did their superhero pictures, we also did some family pictures which I will share will you all next week. This family is so sweet and I am so happy that I was given the opportunity to meet them and share their story with you all.
The Beauty Revived 50 Beautiful Children Magazine is currently available for purchase in digital and print form. You can purchase it here. The magazine is packed full of beautiful children, their inspiring stories, and gorgeous photographs.
If you missed out on nominating a child you believe is deserving for the Beauty Revived 50 Beautiful Children Campaign, check out my Dreamcatcher Project and consider nominating him or her for that. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the child’s name, age, and why you think he or she is extraordinary.
I would love if you could take a moment to head over to the Andy Cross – Whatever It Takes facebook page and show them your love and support. You can find lots of pictures of Kamden and Gavin in action over on the facebook page. You can also nominate someone in need of their support while you are there!
Aislyn June Photography | Children’s Photography | email@example.com | Whitehall, MI | Muskegon, MI