On October 22nd, 2018, I was presented with a choice. Take my kids out for an early dinner looking like I was dragged through a hedge backwards, or preserve my dignity and eliminate any chance that I may experience the embarrassment of bumping into someone I knew. Hunger won, as I found myself chasing my squirrelly children to our table at one of our favourite restaurants. Just as I rounded the corner, I saw this man.
In all of my life, up to this day, I had never felt so compelled approach a complete stranger. Something about him drew me in, and I wanted to know more about this man who encompassed an energy that took the room. I looked at my 16-year-old and said, “what I am about to do is going to embarrass you; I’m sorry.”
I walked over to this man’s table, looking about as unprofessional as you can imagine a professional looking. Socks rolled up over my pants, with sneakers on, no make-up, and messy hair that my littles had unwittingly snotted in a few times that day.
I walked up to him, introduced myself, and proceeded to say, “I am completely in love with your face and your beard and I would love to photograph you with that baby (pointing to the baby across the table), whom I am hoping is your grandson”.
This is where the story gets interesting. You see, this is not his grandson, but a child whom he considers to be just like a grandson. This man is this boy’s mother’s boss and has been for the last eight years. He encourages her to bring her baby to work and even has a dedicated nursery space upstairs so that a nanny can accompany mom and babe and help her while she works doing a job that she loves.
If that is not incredible enough, I learned that he is one of the two people that started the Spirit Tree fundraiser, which brought in over 60,000 in the first two weeks alone this year, to donate directly to local charitable organizations. Actually, the day I approached him was the day they were meeting about the spirit tree campaign. Despite the enormous cost of running the fundraiser, this man does not take a single cent to cover the expenses. One-hundred percent of the proceeds are donated directly to charities in the city. One of those charities is the Secret Angels, who collect Christmas lists from families in need and provide gifts and Christmas dinner for the children of countless families every year.
That is not all. He is also the director of the angel flight program, which organizes and provides FREE private, same-day flights for individuals in rural communities to travel to the city to attend medical appointments. When I contacted him to set up a time for the shoot, he apologized for responding late because he had two angel flights he had done earlier that day.
It turns out that not all heroes wear capes, but some have wings to fly. With everything going on the in world, I just want to shine a spotlight on something good, and this man surely qualifies.
P.S. He fed this beautiful baby boy his bottle and patted his back in the same position you see him here, until he fell asleep for this shoot.