I first met Aiden last year during our first Christmas Wish Project at Monash Children’s Hospital. He came to us so sick, and I remember him being so sad. We tried to cheer him up with bubble blowing. He was a little unsure about big man in red, so Santa snuck behind Aiden’s pram and posed with him for the photo without Aiden realising.
Aiden’s magical photoshoot came just 2 days after Aiden was released from ICU. He had recently been diagnosed with Leukemia, and quickly following a dangerous fungal infection which put him at deaths door.
Aiden stuck in my mind throughout the year. So when he returned in 2017 for his Santa shoot, I was overjoyed to see him radiant and happy. A full head of hair and a smile on his face. He looked like a completely different boy.
Aiden’s story was just one of many that touch my heart as we travelled from hospital to hospital across Australia surprising families with the magic of Christmas through the power of Photography and Photoshop.
See Aiden’s 2017 Before and After Photo
Aiden and his family were absolutely blown away by the end result, and Aiden himself still can’t believe the change in him from 2016 to now. Though he still has a long road of Leukemia treatment, he is looking forward to his future, going to kinder next year, and planning his Pirate Birthday Party for the end of December.
There were so many stories, some heart wrenching, some hopeful. As we photographed each child (not sharing our little secret of putting them into a magical image), we got to know the children.
Watch the Christmas Wish video, directed by the wonderful Courtney Holmes here:
It was wonderful to have Brittany Long travel with us this year. We first met Brittany in 2016 when she was brought in for a photo with Santa as part of Christmas Wish. Brittany, 17 at the time, had recently lost the use of her limbs. The doctors didn’t know what was wrong (and still don’t). Despite being thrown such a physical challenge, Brittany has persevered through and is an inspiration to all who know her. Brittany was given the opportunity to be the 2017 Young Heart when we discovered her love of Photography. She has been mentored by some amazing photographers and has become a much loved member of The Heart Project team. To find out more about Brittany’s story visit: https://www.theheartproject.com.au/young-heart-program/
Accompanying Brittany as her mentor, our previous Young Heart, Karley Miller, played a big role in this year’s Christmas Wish. Karley spent most of her life in hospital and has a deep understanding of what it’s like to spend Christmas away from home. Karley is an inspiration and if you haven’t followed her story, you can view it here: https://storyart.com.au/life-with-half-a-brain-karleys-story/
In Adelaide, it was incredibly special to be able to run Christmas Wish with our first ever Heart Project family. Jacqui and Kelly Griffin, with their daughter Tahliyah, were the first to reach out to me in early 2016 to request an image to free their daughter from her disability through creative photography.
You can view more of Tahliyah’s story here: https://storyart.com.au/brave-tahliyah-unable-to-walk-or-speak-has-the-heart-of-a-lion/
Tahliyah loved spending time with Santa and even had a special photo with him on her great grandfather’s handmade chair.
Jacqui’s gift as a baby whisperer was a blessing on the day, as she soothed the youngest sick children into Santa’s arms.
Santa, Kevin Harris (Little and Trivial Events), returned this year and travelled with us to all the hospitals, bringing the Spirit of Christmas with him as he spent quality time with each child. He even travelled on Virgin Australia as Santa and it didn’t matter how many times he was stopped for photos and video messages, he made sure he had time for each and every family (to the point were I thought Santa might be called over the loudspeaker at boarding).
See a little video of Santa’s adventures in the air here:
Each scene was created in Adobe Photoshop and took over 20 hours to prepare. The images used were from my travels throughout the year, as I planned Christmas Wish and imagined the magical scenes I wanted to create.
See a speed edit of the Aussie Scene below:
I want to acknowledge everyone who was part of Christmas Wish 2017. It was a project of love by many, many volunteers. Next year we are going to take Christmas Wish Worldwide, and we would love to hear from you if you’d like to be a part of this special project. Register your Interest here
This Christmas Wish video was directed by Courtney Holmes
Thank you Courtney you are amazing!
Our Heart Project Team:
Victoria MacKay, Rosie Appleton, Mandy Smith, Joanne Manariti, Brittany Long, Jacqui Griffin, Kelly Griffin, Jenny Robb, Naomi Bassham, Naomi Bubner, Yvette Martinette, Brian Bird, Adam Cubito, Karley Miller, Nikki Miller, Santa – Kevin Harris
Kirra Harris, Christine Itel, Kylie Purtell, Gemma Valentine-Davies
Christmas Wish 2017 is proudly supported by Adobe Australia
Big thanks to:
Thank you to Monash Children’s Hospital, The Children’s Hospital at Westmead and Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Adelaide, for welcoming The Heart Project with open arms and helping Christmas Wish come to life!