A handful of you know about the events that occurred on my recent trip to the Grand Tetons with my brother Michael and his girlfriend (and no doubt my future sister-in-law) Rachael, but most of you have probably not heard the story. The short-ish version is this:
On the third day of our trip—the first evening we were in the true backcountry, about 2 miles into a trail, the start of which was a half-hour from Jackson, WY—Rachael collapsed while trying to get over a log. She had lost control of most of the left side of her body. Michael and I feared stroke, or worse, while we scrambled to figure out how to get her some help. Michael ended up carrying out of the canyon while I went back to camp, packed it up and shuttled everyone's gear out.
After getting her out of the woods, she was rushed to St. John's Medical Center in Jackson, where she received some stellar treatment. But they were a small clinic and ill-equipped to continue treating her. They could tell us that here was something very wrong, but could not do much for Rachael. So, sometime after midnight she was airlifted back to Salt Lake City and admitted to University of Utah Hospital. After a few days of testing, the neuro docs there discovered that the brain tumor that Rachael had previously had removed—and which she'd been clear of for over a decade—had returned, entangling itself in her brainstem and possibly spine. Emergency surgery was scheduled for the next day.
On Friday, 8/25, a U of U hospital neuro team was able to remove around 85% of the tumor. The remainder was too close to the brainstem, and would have to be attacked with either chemo or radiation. As of 9/1, Michael and Rachael are still at U of U. Rachael is undergoing physical therapy, re-learning how to walk and regain the use of the left side of her body.
For as horrible a situation as this is, they are both handling it remarkably well. Rachael is determined to fight this thing with more ferocity than she did when she was 19. And my brother Michael. Seeing his response to this is when I realized that my little brother was a man. I don't think he's left her side in two weeks. I am honestly floored by the strength they've both shown.
The bright spot in events like this is always that it brings out the best in humanity. It makes you want to step up and do everything you can for those you love. I don't know how to kill cancer or help with rehab, I don't have any hookups for cheap flights home and I can't help with their backlog of work. But I make some damn good photos. So for the first time, I am putting prints up for sale.
Here's how it will work:
Square images will be printed 12x12 (they mat and frame up very nicely in the Ikea Ribba 19 3/4" x 19 3/4" frames). $50 shipped to you.
Rectangular images will be printed at 12x18. $75 shipped to you.
Panoramas will be have to be discussed on a case-by-case basis.
I've put together a gallery of some preferred images below, but you can also request anything from my Instagram account or the rest of this site or even my older Facebook photo albums. I should be able to print most of those old photos.
To order: Donate the cost of the print(s) to this GoFundMe: https://www.gofundme.com/team-rachael
Then, send me a copy or screenshot of your donation confirmation at firstname.lastname@example.org with the name/description of the photo(s) you want. I will have all prints made when I have a large order, probably at the end of September. I will then ship them to you or hand-deliver if you're local.
I will be covering the cost of printing and shipping the photos, so every cent you pay will go directly to them. I would like to stress that Michael and Rachael are super lucky in that they both have great jobs who are very understanding and accommodating, and very good insurance. And their friends and family have raised a pretty impressive amount of money in the last few days to take care of expenses while they're out of work. As Michael put it, "There are millions of people who need help more than we do." But they are nowhere near in the clear yet. Rachael will start chemo or radiation some time after they finally come back to Chicago, so will probably be out of work for quite some time. They also have no idea what they're facing in the future, both financially and in terms of the illness.
I say this to emphasize that while we would greatly appreciate anyone's help, I don't want anyone to feel obligated. There is a lot of horrible shit going on in the world right now, and I know it's hard to allocate your goodwill. If you only have a bit to spare and want to help somewhere, please send it down to Texas. I'd rather you approach this as an "Oh, I've always wanted to buy one of these, so I might as well do it now" kind of situation. The only difference is that instead of me turning your print order into a case of beer, it's going to go help one of the sweetest, strongest people I've ever met win the fight of her life. But if you need to decorate some walls or are looking for a unique Christmas gift, I've got you covered.
Of course, if you don't need any photos, but want to kick in a few bucks because you love a good love story or the cause hits home or for whatever reason, please feel free to do so. To sweeten the deal (and don't think I've buried this at the end because I was hoping no one would read it), if I reach my goal of either 100 prints or $5000 in total sales, I will SHAVE MY BEARD. Those who know me know that's not a thing I offer up lightly. The skin of my face has not seen daylight in over 13 years. But if that gets you to buy, then I'm down. If you only want to donate money to see me shave, just comment "beard" on the GoFundMe page. OK. I think that's it. Like I said, short-ish story, right? Shoot me an email if you want to chat about specifics or just say something nice to me. In the last two weeks I've really learned that there's no gesture too small in a time of need.
Love and light to you all.