I was recently approached by another photographer to take part in a mini session event to raise money for a local charity called Regan's Acts of Kindness. I'd heard about what the organization was doing and knew the story, but had not yet been involved. I knew I wanted to do something to support them, and this seemed like a perfect opportunity. A third photographer signed on and we hashed out the details. We decided to donate the entire fee for each mini session directly to the charity. The event was advertised on the Regan's Acts of Kindness Facebook page, and families from all over Central New York started contacting us.
Regan Shetsky was struck by a car and killed early this year in the parking lot of her school. She was only three years old. I remember reading about the story online when it happened and crying. I had never met Regan or her family, but my heart ached for them. I could not imagine what they were going through, and honestly, I couldn't bear think about it too much. I held my own three year old a little tighter that day, and offered up my own kind of prayer for Regan's family.
Not long after, I started hearing about Regan's Acts of Kindness. The Shetsky family started it to honor their little girl and encourage others to help spread the happiness that Regan brought to everyone who knew her. The Facebook page has tons of stories about people doing random acts of kindness for strangers in Regan's name.
I'm not sure if I can find the words to express how inspired I am by Regan's family. Through the darkest of days, they not only did not fall into the black hole of despair that I know would beckon me if I were in their situation, but they pushed through and found a way to let Regan shine like never before. I am in awe of their strength.
I had four amazing families for the mini sessions. Each session had it's own unique personality. From the shy twins to the future big sister, from the trio of silly sisters to the protective big brothers. I had only a few minutes with each family, but it was plenty of time to have fun and capture some genuine moments.
We held the sessions at Upper Onondaga Park in Syracuse. The park is perfect for sessions because it has such a variety of scenery. I commandeered the stone bridge and the willow tree next to it, while another photographer used a shady area within sight for her scheduled sessions. The wind was a little wild that day and several times I had to move or wait it out. It made for some interesting and challenging complications.
I can't think of a better way to spend a morning than meeting and laughing with four new families while raising money for a fantastic cause. Every session that day, including the ones scheduled with the other photographers, was with generous and caring people. I hope every person who participated in the event walked away feeling as good as we did.
At the end of the day, our total raised was just over $1000. I've never been so happy about handing over a large sum of money to an organization! I have no doubt that Regan's Acts of Kindness will find a worthy project to apply the funds to. And I have no doubt that I will be volunteering my services for them again in the future.
If you would like to find out more about Regan's Acts of Kindess and the amazing work the Shetsky family is doing around Central New York, please visit their Facebook page here. You can also donate money to help fund their various projects here.
Cassandra Zingaro - photographer, mom, wife, owner of HeartStrings Photography and first time blogger