Believe In Real Superheroes

It's so overwhelming to me, seeing this project travel so far and wide, and it doing exactly what I intended it to do: inspire people.  I can't do it alone though, and it's been through the support of talented friends, generous family, and thoughtful strangers that The Drawing Hope Project has become what it is today.  And, I hope for it to continue growing!  It has always been a juggling act for me - doing this between "my day job" as a wedding photographer and studio manager at Renaissance Studios Photography...and lately, finding that time to do both (or either!) has become a bit of a multi-tasking marathon.  But as they say: make hay while the sun shines!  

BELIEVE IN REAL SUPERHEROES!  Click the image to visit the shop!

BELIEVE IN REAL SUPERHEROES!  Click the image to visit the shop!

Since this entire project is done for free, other than finding the TIME to donate, it is difficult to find the FUNDS as well.  When time, travel, gifts, props, photography and more are considered - an average "magical photo shoot" costs anywhere from $250-$500 (or more), and takes a total of 12-15 hours (that I am not spending making money to pay my bills).  My friend Rob at Mighty Creative helped me put together a series of designs for shirts and sweaters and I absolutely LOVE THEM.  The response after launching the shop just last night has been incredible!  100% of all proceeds from the sale of everything in the shop goes to supporting this project, and allowing me to continue doing this.  Added perk? The shirts are awesome and will make you (and whoever sees them) smile.  The first batch of shirts are being ordered this Monday, April 28th - so get your orders in early!

My favourite of all of them, though, is the BELIEVE in Real Superheroes shirts, with the red (or pink!) cape on the back.  I love imagining how kids might feel when wearing that...or even adults!  I think every shirt deserves a cape, and everyone deserves to feel like a Superhero.

Next month we are doing the Canadian Cancer Society's Relay For Life, in Wallaceburg (my home town!).  It's an overnight marathon, from 7pm to 7am, with a team of friends and family working together to raise awareness and funding for cancer research.  I'm deciding which shirt to wear for the marathon, but am pretty sure it'll be one with a cape (maybe the yellow one?).  If you aren't able to purchase a shirt to support this project, maybe you could sponsor me for the relay?  I'm 58% of the way to my goal (as of this morning!) with just over 1 month to go.  I am relaying in honour and memory of two REAL SUPERHEROES: my Dad, and Marco The Explorer...and everyone else who has fought or is fighting this awful disease.  Your support, as always, is MORE APPRECIATED THAN YOU KNOW!

Some of the greatest Superheroes are the ones that have gone before us.  They're the ones that live on and inspire us to keep going, encourage us to keep trying, and remind us to keep fighting.  No one has ever become poor from giving.  Everyone becomes more of a Superhero by helping.

A Little of This...And A Little of This...

In case you missed it last night on ABC World News With Diane Sawyer (and of course, the one time the Drawing Hope Project happens to be on ABC World News with Diane Sawyer, Diane Sawyer happens to not be hosting the show!) - here it is.  This is from my trip in March to work with 6 awesome kids at the Nevada Childhood Cancer Foundation, which was totally life-changing for me!  This small piece shows just Junaisy, but I connected with each of those children and their families, not to mention the support workers at the Foundation itself.  It was truly a magical day.  You can see all 6 finished magical photos below, as well as a video I put together, documenting my trip there, and the day itself.

The Little Heroes of Nevada

These 6 photos truly show how unique and special every single child is.  From Popstars to Butterfly Fairies...Ballerinas to Dinosaurs - everyone has a dream, or a wish - and it's as one-of-a-kind as each of these children.  


Heroes Don't Look Like They Used To...They Look Like You Do

One Day, One Deed

Last week was pretty special, even more special than the average day.  I met Zach and his family, and helped his dream of owning the 'world's best quesadilla shop' come to life.  NBC's The TODAY Show flew in to document the experience and the next day, we revealed Zach's final photo to was, in his own words, "Awesome!"

Here we are on the day of Zach's shoot, with his family, Erica Hill, the correspondent from the TODAY Show, Colleen the producer, and myself (bottom left!)

The segment on the show kicked off a series they are doing called "One Day, One Deed" - and I'm honoured that they highlighted The Drawing Hope Project as part of it.  It really IS that simple when you think of it - you don't need to think about saving the entire world.  Or even making life better for 100 people or more.  It's about what you can do, and what you do, every day.  It's what you can do to make life better for just one person.  Over time...all those little "one deeds" add up to one big difference you have made.  

This project has been getting a LOT of attention lately, and it's amazing to watch the power it has to inspire and touch people, literally everywhere.  And it all started out with one deed, on one day, over two years ago.  Then another one.  And another one.  I never imagined it would or could ever add up to what it has.  It's proof that the sum adds up to more than the parts.  A Mom, who I have never met or worked with, wrote in yesterday, and it was so simple but meant so much to me.  She wrote about how the project and all the photos and stories made her feel, in relation to her son with Autism: "It was like being able to see in his mind for a few minutes!"   Every one of these magical photos and the stories of these amazing kids lives on beyond the photo shoot.  They travel around and continue to inspire not only the child and family featured in the pic, but everyone who sees them.  Each little warrior becomes that 'good deed' that has the power to change and inspire the lives of total strangers.  And that's what it's all about.

NBC's The TODAY Show: April 14, 2014

The clip plays after the 'commercial' at the beginning.  It's about 3 minutes long, and you can click the OPTIONS at the bottom to view it larger!

Zach, The King of Quesadillas

Some photos are just magical straight out of the camera.  Here's Zach, with his two hearts.

When I saw Zach's original drawing come in...I really had no idea what I was going to do.  A Quesadilla Shop?  Zach's story is so special...two heart transplants...who does that?  Mixing his love of quesadillas (seriously, it's more of an obsession!) with his love (okay, obsession) of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and his personal story of his two transplants all together, here is what I came up with.  I absolutely love it.  Every time I finish one of these magical photos for The Drawing Hope Project, I experience that same moment as the Mom who wrote's like I get to see inside and share the heart of that child, for just a few minutes.  I think I'm more of a translator than an artist...taking the drawings and hopes of these children and translating them into something that is universal and can speak every language in the world.  – xo Shawn


We Are How We Treat Each Other...And Nothing More

I couldn't wait to share my trip to Nevada to meet 6 awesome kids at the NCCF - and while we're waiting for ABC World News with Diane Sawyer to air the segment...I put together this behind the scenes of that super awesome day.  I have loved this song for so long, "Nothing More" by The Alternate Routes - and the moment I heard it, I knew it was a "Drawing Hope Song".  The lyrics are so perfectly perfect, and exactly what this project is all about.

Heroes don’t look like they used to, they look like you do
— The Alternate Routes (Nothing More)

Once I have all the magical pics from the trip complete (hopefully by Monday!) I will be making a "Part 2" to this video - there's just way too much I want to share, and it's that magical moment where you see the drawings come to life that I can't wait to see happen!  xo – Shawn

Inside Story with Avery Haines: The Drawing Hope Project

I don't even know what to say, and that is rare!  Avery Haines from CityTV and her awesome cameraman James followed me last Friday to meet the Hampson family in Hamilton - and document what The Drawing Hope Project is about (they say I'm from Hamilton but I'm from Guelph!).  It's stunning to see how other people view what you do.  To me, it's just what I do, and love doing.  I couldn't be happier with how this spot turned out, and I am SO grateful to Avery for putting this together and for the Hampson's for letting me into their life for a day!

If you're just finding out about The Drawing Hope Project, this is an awesome place to start:

Anything Is Possible - Remembering Marco

Anything Is Possible - Remembering Marco

I will never ever ever forget the day I met Marco and his incredible family.  His mom Julia and his sister Nicole and I took a walk to the park near their house.  I was enamoured with Marco's painting that he sent me - a huge, giant apple that challenged a massive sun the same size.  At first I had no clue what I was going to make from that - until I met him. 

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