Kenze and Makki
Chive Charities, Lincoln, Nebraska
A few weeks ago a friend of a friend got into contact with me asking if I could go to Lincoln, Nebraska to do a photo update on a story that Chive Charities had done earlier in the year. I was pretty excited about this opportunity! I have been following Chive Charities for a while now and sincerely love their approach to "Making the World 10% Happier" by encouraging their recipients to raise awareness by telling their story. Through not just giving, but connecting. As you all know, stories and connecting with people is what we're PASSIONATE about here. The big stories, the small stories, the good stories, the hard stories. Getting to tell Kenze's story, through images, for such a great cause was easy to hop onto.
Kenze was on the varsity cheerleading squad as a freshman, a competitive gymnast...a normal, growing teenager. However, her family discovered that she had a long series of syndromes creating a domino effect...and she was diagnosed with Mast Cell Activation Disorder. Basically, her body is allergic to itself and every day is questionable for her. They say that something might not be a big deal one day, but can be lethal to her the next. At any given moment Kenze can have a debilitating episode (including seizure or even mimic a stroke) that can last for what seems like a lifetime. Thankfully, she has Makki (short for Macchiato), her service dog that can smell her histamine levels and prepare her and those around her for what is about to happen.
The team at Chive Charities made the trip from Austin, Texas to Lincoln, Nebraska to meet Kenze and her family to start making home renovations for her to try and keep her healthy and minimize her episodes. Chive Charities set out to raise $15,000 for Kenze...but their Chive Nation raised $70,000! In August of this year they installed new flooring for their home and she started to feel better as soon as they were in! Once the flooring was in, she hadn't had an episode in THREE WEEKS! Prior to the renovation, she had two dozen episodes. That's pretty incredible if you ask me. Not only were they able to provide awesome home renovations for their family, they've arranged to pay for her college to become a nurse when she graduates from high school. Amazing.
When I got to Kenze's home my task at hand was to photograph Kenze, Makki, their family, and their new flooring. My goal was to tell as much of the story as I could through my images. I wanted to show how Makki watches over Kenze with such love and intent to keep her safe. I wanted to be able to show how her life as a simple teenager is delicate due to this horrible Disorder she's been given. And I really wanted to find a way to show how Chive Charities helped this sweet family. I was just getting ready to wrap up my time with them when something SO subtle eye caught me. As I was headed down their newly renovated stairs to photograph their basement, I noticed that someone in their family's keys had fallen to the floor. And go figure...they had a KCCO (Keep Calm and Chive On) keychain attached to them. Even though their home renovations were complete, the Chive Charities team was still present in their home. On the floor. The floor they were able to give this awesome family. It probably meant nothing to anyone else, but to me, it was liket an artists signature on a masterpiece.
It was such a cool opportunity to be able to make images for such a huge organization that is dedicated to doing good in the world...even here in small town Nebraska. Chive Charities, thank you...for everything.
Thanks for the photo, Brad!