Tonya Damron Photography

Dream Foundation || Ward Family || Humanitarian Photographer


Ward Family

A few weeks ago I received an email from a place called the Dream Foundation. I had no clue what this organization was or what they did, but they were asking for my help. I did a little research on this organization and realized they (with the help of many others) make dreams come true to terminally ill adults and their families. I thought that was a neat organization, but if I can be honest…. I deleted the email with no response.

As most of you know that response is not my normal response. I serve on the mission field, lead in my church and give back with my talents all the time, but this my friends hit a little too close to home than I could wrap my head around. Having lost my dad at the end last year, my mentor who was like a 2nd father a few weeks later (both of the same rare lung disease) and also with a few other people within weeks of each other I felt placing myself in this type of photo shoot was not ideal.

The night before the Dream Foundation was going to deliver the Ward family their dream they emailed me again. I struggle with this email big time. I started having conversations with God because I knew this wasn’t by chance out of all the photographers in Knoxville, TN this organization wanted me to shoot this event. I finally surrendered  and emailed them back with a Yes. I’ll admit all the way up to the walk to the Ward’s front door I felt like I could throw up. Reliving things in my own mind and the thought of what all this family has went through and what they were facing….. a million thoughts was just too much for me. I said one last prayer before ringing the doorbell that God would just give them peace and that He would help me bring some joy to the day.

The funny thing is that I was the one that received peace and joy that day. It was so comforting to know that Steve and his family are believers and that even through it all they still had a smile on their faces. The most significant thing for me that day wasn’t the dream being granted, but a simple question Steven made a point to ask me.

I had went back inside to get my lens cap and everyone was chatting on the front porch and Steve had walked in right after me to the living room. Steve looked at me and ask “So are you having a good day?” It kind of took my by surprise, for I had actually had a horrible day and week if I was honest. I had been dealing with some things that were hanging on from my past, dealing with a personal things that week and to add the passing of my two favorite people on the planet. I paused and I replied “I’m having a great day Steve.” That simple question put life back into focus for me. How does it not, when a terminally ill man ask you how’s your day…you refocus.

I don’t know a lot about Steve or his story,  but there is one thing I do know in the short time I was with him is that he knows Jesus. I could see the love of our Father in him, I could see it in his laughter and in his peace. I’m thankful that I obeyed and I took the time out of my day to spend an hour with the Ward family. God has used this experience to remind me of the calling on my life as a humanitarian photographer, to stir up some dreams in my heart of serving more and to refocus my lens in life that one more day on this Earth to love people is what we are called to do.

Join me in prayer over Steve and his family.


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