Photo of the Day: Cancer Hero

This weekend my family participated in PurpleStride, a 5k run/walk for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. This year’s Kansas City event has raised $297,000 – a HUGE growth for its third year. The best part about the event? It’s more than just a walk. It’s more like a carnival with booths, thousands of people, and a huge kids activity area complete with a blow up slide, face paint, crafts, and popcorn and cotton candy. I love how this event is raising awareness about pancreatic cancer. In 2013 45,220 will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the U.S., and 38,460 will die from it. Hopefully fundraisers like this will change those grim statistics.

See my photo from the inaugural Kansas City walk.

My cousin Taylor is going to be a great supporter of cancer awareness when she grows up. Tay lost her grandma to pancreatic cancer almost 3 years ago.

Photographic Prints for Relay For Life

I’ve been team captain for our Relay For Life team for several years, so I’m constantly trying to come up with creative fundraisers. Last year I decided to try my hand at selling photographic prints, and I raised about $250 with that fundraiser. Not too bad! Naturally I want to beat that number this year. If you like my photography, please consider purchasing a photographic print. You can pick one of the Kansas City photos below, or you can pick any photo from my blog. Visit to place an order. And if you don’t want a print but you still hate cancer, the American Cancer Society and I will happily accept donations to Relay For Life. Thank you for your continued support!

Union Station during Making Strides Against Breast Cancer
Union Station during Making Strides Against Breast Cancer
Kansas City's City Market
Kansas City’s City Market
A cow silhouetted against a Kansas City sunset
A cow silhouetted against a Kansas City sunset
Downtown Kansas City at night
Downtown Kansas City at night


Downtown Kansas City at night - B&W
Downtown Kansas City at night – B&W
Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts at night - B&W
Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts at night – B&W
Liberty Memorial during Making Strides Against Breast Cancer
Liberty Memorial during Making Strides Against Breast Cancer
Liberty Memorial at dusk
Liberty Memorial at dusk
Country Club Plaza lights at the JC Nichols Fountain
Country Club Plaza lights at the JC Nichols Fountain
Country Club Plaza lights
Country Club Plaza lights
Kansas City skyline - B&W
Kansas City skyline – B&W
Western Auto building in Kansas City
Western Auto building in Kansas City

Good Beaches, Good Company in Haiti

Read Day 1 Here      Read Day 2 Here      Read Day 3 Here      Read Day 4 Here

Read Day 5 Here

Saturday, Dec. 1

Today was another great day. We started out in our normal routine, with eggs for breakfast again. Both groups headed out around 8 to finish the last 6 water filter installations. With only 3 installs per group, we knew the morning would go by fast. My group only ended up installing 2, because the 3rd house wasn’t complete, and they wanted to finish it before having the filter permanently installed.

These two boys lived at the home where we didn’t end up installing a filter. Young boys not wearing pants was pretty common. Right behind them were two turkeys on a leash.

Both homes we visited were fairly nice. The first appeared to be home to several teens and an older gentleman, who was listening to music on a battery-operated radio. One of the boys was actually playing on an old cell phone.

We installed a water filter in this pretty Haitian girl’s home.

The second home had quite a few big rooms with a lot of furniture, but it was very dark and musky. The dining room where we installed the filter was almost pitch black, so they screwed in a light bulb … and there was light! It was one of the few homes with electricity, although they obviously used it sparingly. The mother, father, and four adorable children watched us while we installed the filters. Like almost everyone else, they seemed very appreciative. We were done installing filters by 10:30, even with the traffic jams going through the market.

Back at the church, we played with the kids for a while, and the same girl painted over my pink and blue fingernails. We had spam, pb&j, and Pringles again for lunch, then we ventured out for an afternoon of relaxation at the beach. The views along the road outside Arcahaie were gorgeous, with the ocean on one side and mountains on the other. The beach cost $2/person, and as we headed toward the water, groups of Haitians immediately tried selling us bracelets, artwork, conch shells, etc. Most of it looked like cheap, bulk souvenirs rather than handmade crafts. A couple guys even tried selling us live crabs and lobster for $15, which they offered to cook for us! I was actually glad I didn’t have any money with me. The beach was rocky rather than sandy, so you couldn’t really lie out, but it was nice not having to deal with messy sand.

Scott and Curtis enjoying the beautiful views.

Ryan, Jacob, Matt, Hank, Robenson, and I went out on a small wooden rowboat with a local to go snorkeling. It was $5/person, but only $2.50 for Hank and me since I had my own snorkel & mask, and Hank just went for the ride. We immediately started seeing jellyfish in the water – some probably 10-12 inches in diameter. Pretty soon we started seeing lots of garbage, too. The local man kept telling us there were no jellyfish, yet we kept seeing tons of them float by. It took about 15 minutes to get to a small reef area, where we reluctantly jumped in for a few minutes but had to constantly doge jellyfish. As I was heading back to the boat, I felt a sharp sting on my upper thigh. I’d been stung by tiny jellyfish in the past, so I immediately knew what happened. I’m not sure the others believed me (maybe because of my high pain tolerance, ha!) until it started to swell up. Matt got stung on his shoulder, too. Needless to say, we didn’t stay in that spot very long. The local continued on to a better spot, where I only saw one jellyfish. Besides the occasional garbage, the water was crystal clear, and we saw was some nice coral and small creatures swimming about. I was able to dive down 5-10 feet for a few seconds at a time to get a closer look at the small fish and anemone. I’m guessing the area had been over fished though, because everywhere else I’ve snorkeled or dove has had a lot more marine life.

After we got back to the shore, Whitney (our nurse) put hydrocortisone on my sting, which helped with the pain and swelling immediately. Cold Prestige beers were waiting for us, so I enjoyed one with the group. The others had already had a couple of beers and even some Haitian rum and son-son (whatever that is), which was part of a long-running joke with Hank throughout the week. We took some group photos together and just had a great time hanging out, laughing, and telling stories.

Our entire mission team, along with Patrick, Robenson, Oldi, James, and the bartender lady at our beach hut.

Unfortunately we had to leave the beach around 4, but we stopped at a preschool to drop off some donations. The school was a simple concrete building with about 4 classrooms, an outdoor hallway, tiny chairs, a chalkboard, and a few old toys. We learned that this particular school cost $125/student/year, and about 36 kids attended. The attendance had dropped from about 50 students due to cost.

A chalkboard at the very simple preschool we visited in Arcahaie. The kids that get an education in Haiti are the lucky ones.

Next we returned to the church to see the kids anxiously waiting for us. They were always so excited to see us, with big shouts and waves and huge smiles on their faces. For dinner we filled up on fish with Congo beans, onions, and rice; fried plantain; coleslaw; and mango. We continued to hang out with the kids until dark. Our water supply had a leak in it, so we ran out after only a couple people had showered. Patrick went out and brought back a few buckets full of water so we could take bucket showers. This trip, and especially tonight, really made me realize how little water you actually need for daily tasks. I’ve heard than an average American uses 300 gallons of water a day, but I think we could probably use about a hundredth of that. Since I’ve been home I’ve vowed to take shorter showers, spend less time with the water running while doing dishes and prepping food, and just appreciating the clean water that I’m blessed with every day. We had another great devotional before heading to bed at our usual time.

Making Strides to End Breast Cancer

Last weekend I was an event photographer for the fabulous Making Strides Against Breast Cancer charity walk in Kansas City. It started out chilly , but it turned into a beautiful day. Best of all – the event raised over $322,000 for the American Cancer Society’s fight to end breast cancer! This year I walked the route with my camera, so I got to see some great views of the city flooded in pink.

Kansas City’s Union Station illuminated in pink as the sun begins to rise
The Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Chevy Camaro a pace car
One of the cutest walkers
Liberty Memorial flooded with thousands of people for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer
Ladies dancing & having fun during the opening ceremonies
Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walkers taking a lap around Liberty Memorial
Remembering those who have fought breast cancer

A world with less breast cancer…

… is a world with more birthdays. Last week I was asked to photograph the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Kickoff Breakfast in Kansas City. It was held at Arrowhead Stadium and it’s a great cause, so I was happy to help out. Making Strides is an American Cancer Society 5k walk benefiting breast cancer. There are events all across the country, so if breast cancer is something you’re passionate about, check out

We arrived at the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Kickoff Breakfast well before sunrise.
The breakfast was held at Arrowhead Stadium, home of the Kansas City Chiefs.
Attendees grabbed breakfast before the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer presentation.
About 300 guests attended the free breakfast to learn about the Making Strides walk.
Emcee Davo, from Mix 93.3, along with American Cancer Society staff person Lauren, hosted the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer breakfast.
Two women’s health physicians had a great presentation about signs of breast cancer, what to expect during a mammogram, and going through breast cancer treatment.
Future Making Strides team captains talked with Society staff after the event. Staff will stay in contact with team captains from now until the October 27 walk.