Seventeen-year-old Autumn, from New Castle, PA, has had an arduous journey while battling astrocytoma, but the one thing that keeps her whirlwind life standing at a still is her passion for photography. Camera in hand, Autumn has captured the good times and developed from the negative ones. With the help of Make-A-Wish ® Greater Pennsylvania and West Virginia, she was granted her wish to photograph the beauties of Aruba.
Upon their arrival, Autumn and her family got settled at the Renaissance Resort, which boasted a beautiful view of beach. Autumn and her mother had a relaxing start to their stay with a special spa day. They got manicures, pedicures and a moment to unwind. Later, they moseyed to the beach, where Autumn could see her freshly painted toes through the crystal clear water. After having to cancel a previous trip planned with friends due to her illness, Autumn couldn't be happier as she relaxed and enjoyed the natural wonders of Aruba.
It is no coincidence that Autumn loves to take pictures of nature’s finest foliage. While on her trip, she took more than 600 snapshots of her favorite views and landscapes. She even got to see the lens through a true photographer’s eye when she met world renowned photographer, Werner Bertsch, of Caribbean Photo Workshop in Aruba. He showed her different features of her camera, gave her tips on achieving the perfect angle and generously let her use his camera. Together, they visited a lovely little chapel that had a serenity labyrinth garden. She strolled through the maze in true amazement. Then, he took her to his favorite beach to capture the stunning sunset. Here, they took a fabulous family photograph with the sunset background and glistening water. After their photoshoot spree, Werner took Autumn and her family to a local restaurant called Wacky Wahoo’s. They enjoyed a delicious dinner to end a picture-perfect day.
During their stay in Aruba, Autumn and her family went on an adventure tour to see Aruba’s natural pool. A jeep carried them on an off-road safari through rocky terrain and winding dirt roads. Accompanied by enthusiastic guides, the tour featured historical anecdotes of the land and various sites such as gold mine ruins, the natural bridge and a stone garden.
When they arrived at Aruba’s natural pool, the water was cold, yet inviting. The crystal clear water gave Autumn the perfect opportunity to go snorkeling, spotting several different kinds of fish and coral. As the wild waves crashed against the rocks, her dad and brother fearlessly jumped into the deep end. Autumn’s mom was nervous to let her follow, but Autumn confidently said, “You got to live mom, I’m jumping!” She dove into excitement, never feeling more alive and at bliss. It was moments like those and many others on her trip that gave her the courage to look at her life through a different lens, focus on what is important and take a shot.