Once upon a time, as all fairy tales begin, there was a sweet and amazingly kind four-year-old princess named Ava. Always smiling, her magical power was infecting others with her contagious giggles and sending out waves and waves of love. Ava’s care and compassion for others was apparent everywhere she went as she adored showering her many loved ones with hugs and kisses so much so she even found herself in trouble at school for giving too many! Ava’s soul was caring and exceptionally giving. One of her very favorite things in life was to pick out gifts especially for her friends’ birthdays. She had a soft spot for animals, especially dogs. If you had a dog, then you were her best friend. She wanted to be a veterinarian when she grew up. She also had to wear a dress every. single. day. and if it was pink then all the better!
Ava had a special spark but, as fairy tales often turn out, there was a sad twist to her fate. Ava’s spark was dimmed when she began losing her balance and having trouble swallowing. She was diagnosed with a rare, inoperable and terminal brain tumor called diffused intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) within days of seeing her doctor for what her parents thought was an ear infection. There was no treatment in all the land that could save her. She and her parents had only experimental trials to rely on, so they gathered their strength and brandished their swords and shields and put every ounce of energy into slaying this monster. Like a fairy godmother, a photographer and friend named Morgan swooped in and gifted a portrait sitting to Ava and her family to freeze the very essence of Ava – her smile – in time. Sadly, this fairy tale with the beautiful princess Ava doesn’t end happily ever after. Instead, Ava fell into her eternal sleep in November of 2012 at just five years old. Though her battle was grueling and painful and terminally sad for her family, Ava was always brave, always smiling and always had HOPE.
Check out Ava’s inaugural Gold Hope session below. Her rendition of the “booger song” is sure to bring many smiles!
The idea of a project that would put beautiful faces to monstrous facts about pediatric cancer started to form during conversations Ava’s mom had with her photographer friend Morgan. They confirmed two basic truths in the trying world of cancer – pictures took on a whole new meaning and not enough people knew about childhood cancer or how to help. The Gold Hope Project was created so that every family fighting alongside their child would be able to have pictures of their amazingly strong fighter. The project is a way for them to not have to worry about getting funds together to have their memories preserved. The project is also a place that shares information about the monster that is cancer.