Strength in Smiles

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

Even if it's just an hour, it's a relished escape for sick or recovering children -- the chance to have hair styled, an excuse to have makeup applied and a reason to smile. The Flashes of Hope program brings volunteer photographers to childhood cancer patients to capture portraits that focus on the individual, not the illness.

The national nonprofit began in Cleveland, and three years ago, after hearing about its mission, 32-year-old Amanda Johnson started a Columbus chapter with the support of the Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation. "I'm a mother, and God forbid if this ever happened to me," she said. "I would hope someone like me would step up and do this."

Others involved share the same motivation. Every month, local photographers and Charles Penzone salon volunteers go to Nationwide Children's Hospital to offer a free photo shoot day. "It's nice," Johnson said. "For a moment, they get to step out of their room and get to have makeup and their hair done."

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Photo by Will Shilling: Jim, Mackenzie and Susan Borrows have their photos taken by Mark Bealer of Studio 66 LLC at Nationwide Children's Hospital.