I've met Myles in 2010, when he and his brother Marcel joined AlbanySalsa.com's Hip Hoppers Club to learn and perform "Men in Black" choreography. I had no idea that Myles had been terminally ill. To me he was just a boy, a little off beat, but very enthusiastic about learning and performing.
You can see this wonderful performance here. Marcel is on the right side, Myles is on the left. I often watch this performance admiring Myles' tenacity for life. I've learned more about this little man just before and after his passing, through pictures his mother, Laurel McAdoo, has been posting to document all the wonderful things he's got to do and see largely due to her determination and the kindness of many others who enriched Myle's short life with amazing experiences.
I can't express how grateful and honored I felt when Laurel asked me to photograph a fundraiser for "Myles of Smyles" foundation on February 10, 2013 at Colonie Country Club in Voorheesville, NY. The plan was to invite 150 people. But no one has considered what an impact Myles has made on anyone who's met him. Close to 350 showed up, and there was shortage of tables, but no one cared. People came to celebrate Myles' life and to raise funds for other kids battling terminal illnesses, which is the purpose of this foundation.
There was another young man who is amidst such a fight. Him and his brothers, and their family, were honored there as well. Another couple was recognized for the efforts to help other children with terminal illness. Their little daughter, one of three girls they have, was diagnosed with terminal cancer on a Thursday, by Tuesday she was gone Their story and the stories of Myles sent tears down my face, and I wondered how photojournalists cover most disturbing events? So many people donated their time, efforts, money and even furniture! A special "Myles" cupcake was created to delight everyone's taste buds as well as a "Purple Elephant" drink. On that eve, I was happy to have chosen a waterproof mascara although I had still problems focusing through the tears.