If you’ve been following our journey the past few years, you know we consider giving back to our community not only a high priority but a blessing for us to use our business and life-calling for the benefit of others. When we partnered with Waves of Grace back in 2015, we knew it would be a long-term partnership we would cherish. At the time though, we had no idea what an incredible impact the families we’ve been blessed to meet over the years would have on us!
We are pleased to share some of our recent portraits captured during the Wildman family’s respite beach vacation along the Emerald Coast. Chelsea was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer in 2019 – she’s been battling it for the past 4 years. She has had 2 major surgeries, an ostomy, multiple types of chemotherapy, radiation, and lots of hospital stays along the way. Nothing has helped. After returning home from her vacation, Chelsea learned that her bloodwork showed a MAJOR increase in the tumor markers meaning there is new, aggressive cancer growth in her body. There is only one treatment option left and it is her hope she can do this last resort chemo without it making her so weak she can’t enjoy the last part of life. Chelsea’s 7-year-old son, Dean, has handled all the doctors and hospitals well despite what he has seen her go through.
Chelsea shared of her family portrait experience, “We had a wonderful photo experience with Ryan. He did a great job and we love our photos so much. The photos are my favorite memory of our trip!”
Waves of Grace is a 501c3 non-profit that was founded in 2014 by Jennifer and Mike Matwijec after Jennifer’s mom passed away with gastric cancer. Their organization sends cancer patients and their loved ones on all-expenses-paid, respite beach vacations. They believe rest is essential to fighting any disease, and laughter and making memories with loved ones is some of the best medicine there is. Through these vacations, Waves of Grace provides an avenue for families to leave cancer at home while experiencing experience rest, relaxation, hope, and peace.
So far, we have photographed dozens of families and worked with Make & Stow and Simply Color Lab who have graciously donated photo boxes and prints for families to take home keepsakes from their experience.
We love sharing the work of this wonderful organization, and we are excited to continue to work with Waves of Grace as they strive to provide light and joy to families experiencing the trials and challenges that come with cancer.
With funds raised from grassroots support, 87+ families have benefited from an all-expenses-paid vacation from Waves of Grace. The long-term mission is to reach as many families needing a vacation as possible.
Waves of Grace has also started a respite beach house fund to build a dedicated home on the beach for these families. While Waves of Grace currently works with property owners all along the Gulf Coast that donate weeks to the organization, they are also hoping to build a home on the beach that can accommodate any cancer patient no matter their need. This home would include an elevator, ramp to the beach, and anything else that delicate recipients might need.
The organization’s biggest need is for additional property owners to work with them to donate weeks. They are grateful for any number of weeks donated! Of course, Waves of Grace is always taking donations to help support the cause. There are several ways you can help. From one-time donations to becoming a corporate sponsor, or sharing your beachfront property – every donation is appreciated.
Follow Waves of Grace:
To learn more about nominating a cancer patient for a beach vacation, visit the Waves of Grace website.
I’m so proud of my kids supporting such a worthy cause.
Thank you, Tim! xoxo
Thanks for supporting Mike and Jenn and Waves! Growing up next door to Jenn, I know her mom is beaming with pride as Jenn and Mike continue to be the arms and feet of Jesus and carry on her memory as well. Thank you for being a big part of this! 💕
They are incredible humans and it’s such a wonderful blessing to their Waves of Grace families! We love working with them so much!