Gia Pettinicchio and her brother, JP, dipped their hands into the water fountain in the Ulfelder Healing Garden on Yawkey 8. With a swipe of her hand, Gia, 2, splashed her older brother and let a mischievous smile take over her face. The siblings erupted into a fit of giggles as photographer Dana Curran captured the moment in black and white.
It was one of many moments Curran photographed for the Boston chapter of Flashes of Hope, a national organization dedicated to creating powerful images of babies, children and teens fighting cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. Flashes of Hope also raises funds to accelerate a cure for childhood cancer. Every year, volunteer photographers like Curran visit Pediatric Hematology and Oncology at MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC) to create lasting memories for children and their families at no charge. Families receive a mounted photograph of their child, a collection of 4” x 6” prints and online access to every image taken that day.
“Even though it’s something small, families can cherish the photos for many years,” said Curran. “We hope the memories from the day are full of joy and hope in a place that might not always feel that way."
For the Pettinicchios, the photos captured Gia at a time when she had overcome intense treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). “I thought these photos would help document Gia’s journey so far, and having them taken in the Healing Garden was really significant at this point in her treatment,” said her mother, Sabrina, of Millis, Mass. “Gia is wild and feisty, and she’s such a ham. She has such a large personality and she’s so expressive. Dana helped capture the essence of Gia. She’s still herself despite everything she’s been through.”
For many families, the day is filled with laughter and joy and the photos bring comfort to families, no matter their child’s outcome. “Parents are always so appreciative of the opportunity to have their child and family photographed by a professional photographer,” said Susan Lichwala, a director for the Boston chapter of Flashes of Hope. “Rarely do we see anything by ear-to-ear smiles!”