Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Ally, and her spirit that continues to guide us

Saturday was the 2nd Annual-Ally's Run benefiting Lincoln's Ride to Walk. As you can tell from the above photo, the venue for the race was at a location that is breathtaking! Photographing a charity event is always something I love doing; however, this event has a special meaning to me. As my loyal blog readers know, I photographed Ally, her sister and their parents about a year and a half ago. Three weeks after I photographed them, Ally passed away. If you'd like to read her story from the fall of 2009, click on Ally's Story  To the right is one of my favorite photos from the session, and one that has left a handprint on my heart. I actually urge you to read her story so that you can discover for yourself, what an extraordinary little girl she was.

Ride to Walk is a program with which Ally and her parents were very involved. RTW is an unbelievable program that helps children and adults who have neurological illnesses. Through this program, patients ride horses and develop skills that may otherwise be unattainable to them. Because of all the budget cuts with our state government, RTW survives only by the generosity of the public and the fundraising events the organization does every year. Please take a moment to read more about this inspirational program at their website.

I left the race on Saturday with such a euphoric feeling. I never leave this property without thanking God for introducing me to this organization and these people. Everyone involved with RTW, and the race, always make me smile. After getting to know Ally's family over the last couple of years, I've realized that her parents are two of the most extraordinary people I will probably ever meet. Although I know that Nikki and Joe asked themselves "why" over the last six years, they have taken that question and worked to come up with solutions. Because of this desire, they continue to work with all the programs that were so important to Ally when she was here, and continue to make this world a better place for those who may not have a voice.

To say that the race was a success would be a drastic understatement. There were runners of all ages who participated, and it was a complete family oriented atmosphere. There were parents who were doing the 5K or 10K while pushing their child's stroller; senior citizens who spent the morning running for children they don't even know, and dozens of volunteers and businesses who came out in their support. One of the reasons Saturday morning was perfect was because of  Corey McKenna, and all his hard work. This man ROCKS!!! Corey knows how important RTW was to Ally, and he is taking his love for running and making an annual event for all of us to enjoy.

As you're looking at the slideshow, notice some of the horseback riding photos. These were photos I took on Saturday of some of the riders in the middle of their therapy session. For those of you who don't know Ally, or her story, I chose to start the slideshow off with a few of the photos I took at her familiy's portrait session. They melt my heart everytime I see them, and I don't think I'll ever tire of looking at that adorable face. As usual, I am always trying to find just the right song for whatever slideshow I'm putting together. I remembered that when Joe delivered his daughter's eulogy, he used a line from Garth Brook's song "The Dance". Thinking about the words that Joe so eloquently spoke at Ally's service have stuck in my mind (and made me cry today as I was putting this together), even a year and a half later. When he said "I could have missed the pain, but I'd have had to miss the dance", it made me look at this song in a completely different way.

Please be sure to check out the RTW website and send a donation if you can. It is one of the most worthy causes you'll encounter. Better yet, call RTW and ask if you can go out and become a won't be sorry! To see additional photos from the event, go to my facebook page.


Nikki Ellis said...

Oh my goodness, Debbie! Your talent always amazes me! Thank you so much for taking all these beautiful pictures of the 2nd Annual Ally's Run. You have captured so many important things in our lives over the last year and a half. I love you so much for always being there for my family.

Jennifer McKenna said...

What a great slideshow! Thank you so much for posting that. Also, I have to say... I went to that event, too, and I was very moved by RTW. The kids were having so much fun and the therapists were so professional. I could watch that for hours :) Definitely a worthy cause. Thank you for using your photography to capture how special this whole thing is --Ally and the family, RTW, and the race.
Joe's sister

Sally Ellis said...

Dear Debbie -
Your incredible talent and caring shine through these pictures. Thank you so much for doing this - for everyone - Joe and Nikki, RTW, the rest of Ally's family....the list goes on.
You have helped Ally continue to touch lives in an amazing way.
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Duane and Sally Ellis
2 of Ally's Grandparents

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