For 12-year-old Sarah, who is diagnosed with leukemia, capturing beauty in a photograph is the one thing that keeps her life in focus. So when she was referred to receive a wish, Sarah knew that she wanted a picture-perfect adventure.
That adventure took Sarah and her family to San Diego, Calif., where they met with a local photographer, Travis Wild. Travis, who has 17 years of experience in photography, was eager to get involved with granting a wish.
“I was totally on board,” Travis said. “But I thought, “they could get anybody, why me?’”
As it turned out, Travis was the perfect pick for Sarah’s cruise through the camera lens.
“I started photography when I was 12,” Travis said. “So I asked myself, ‘What do I wish I learned back then?’”
The answer to that question gave Sarah a one-of-a-kind experience, including a crash course on all the basics of photography. After teaching her about focus, lighting and framing a moment, Travis took Sarah out “on assignment.”
“She was really smart, a great listener and wasn’t afraid to try new things,” Travis said. “I told her to take the camera off auto focus and said, ‘You’re going to be able to do it.’”
Throughout her three-day photography experience in San Diego, Travis continued to see Sarah’s confidence grow. He showed her different ways to take photos during the day outdoors, at night near a bonfire and inside at a fashion model photoshoot. Their photo quest took them to places like Torrey Pines State Park, on the beach and even in a kayak.
(Wish kid Sarah takes photos of fashion model Kelsie Mae O'Connor. Photo credit: Travis Wild.)
“It wasn’t a kid who was sick and a photographer,” Travis said. “It was just a photographer and another photographer, having fun.”
Travis felt that this experience allowed Sarah to forget she was sick and do something she loves.
Like Sarah, many wish kids experience this positive impact of a wish. According to a recent study published in Quality of Life Research, “…fantasizing about wish fulfillment may help replace negative automatic thoughts by positive ones that have been shown to be important when coping with life-threatening illnesses” (Shoshani 2015).
This was something that Travis could relate to personally.
“No matter what is going on in my life, I can always capture something beautiful,” he said. And although Travis and Sarah didn’t talk about Travis’ personal struggles during their time together, he revealed that he, too, was diagnosed with a form of cancer when he was 26.
For that reason, Travis felt even more compelled to make Sarah’s experience extra special and encourages everyone to get involved with Make-A-Wish any chance they have.
“There is always a way to help out,” Travis said. “Whatever you feel passionate about, you can give that and turn it into a cool experience for a kid and their family.”
(Photos provided by Travis Wild and wish kid Sarah.)