Gabe and his family hold a pretty special place in my heart.
It’s not often that I can say I’ve known the seniors I’ve photographed since they were born,
but I can say that about Gabe.
His dad was my high school Chemistry and Physics teacher,
and I was taking his class when Gabe was born.
(Ok, stop doing the mental math! It was a long time ago! :))
When Gabe was born, he suffered a hemorrhage in the space between his scalp and skull.
At just five weeks old, he suffered a major brain bleed (hemorrhagic stroke).
The event that was supposed to be filled with pure joy as this beautiful family welcomed their firstborn
brought so much sadness and fear as they learned that little Gabe had a severe factor X deficiency in his blood,
which is a form of hemophilia. (You can learn more about it at www.factorXinfo.com)
I remember the pain in his dad’s eyes as he told us the story of Gabe’s first few months,
but I also remember his strong faith that rooted his family and gave them strength to keep going.
Gabe’s dad was a beloved teacher and mentor (ahem… because I was a geek in high school
and spent a lot of time with him outside of school with activities like the WYSE team and the Science Club)
and so I had the opportunity to get to know his wife and little Gabe and later Gabe’s little sister, Ariel
(who also has the same Factor X Deficiency).
I was able to volunteer for events for other families who had kids with blood disorders,
and even got to babysit Gabe and Ariel.
Since plasma is one of the treatments for Factor X Deficiency,
we regularly held blood drives in honor of Gabe and Ariel while I was in high school.
(and if you know me and how much I *love* needles,
you might just start to understand how much I care for this family!)
As a result of the Factor X deficiency and the stroke,
Gabe has several physical and developmental challenges that impact his daily life.
He is an incredibly strong fighter, and with the help of his parents,
medical staff, therapists, and teachers, he is able to walk and communicate successfully with others.
Gabe loves to share the Gospel with people he meets,
and he’s active in Special Olympics competing in several sports.
His story is truly an inspiration to us all!
When my husband took a call to be a pastor in Saint Louis, you can imagine my surprise
to learn that Gabe’s family attended our new church!
Come visit and you just might get a card from Gabe! 🙂
Sometimes it’s just plain crazy how God puts people back in your life.
So, you can just imagine how honored I was when Gabe’s parents asked me to take his senior pictures!
It was truly a pleasure and a joy to help plan a session to truly capture who Gabe is right now.
Gabe loves, loves, loves the Cardinals.
And because the special braces he has to wear on his feet are so tedious to put on,
he especially loves his Cardinal flip flops which he can wear all by himself
and enjoy a bit of freedom from the braces.
He loves competing in the Special Olympics,
and he’s proudly showing off the medal he won!
Gabe’s favorite movie is the Polar Express. He could watch it all year long.
He even has his very own Christmas bell just like in the movie!
Gabe loves Burger King. You should have seen the GIANT smile come across his whole body
when we planned to take a few pictures in front of his favorite place.
(and we made it the last stop of the session so he could conveniently enjoy some BK afterwards!)
Gabe, I hope you enjoy your pictures and all the fun memories we had making them! 🙂
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