Family photography has the potential to go beyond just capturing a standard pose. It can capture the story of a family, the joys and struggles of their present, the memories of their past, and their hopes for the future. This is the third in my series of HopeKids Storytelling Sessions this year. The Larson Family and I met at a very unique and beautiful location called the Big Stone Mini Golf Sculpture Garden. I am truly in love with this location for photo sessions. It is a farm in Minnetrista, turned sculpture garden, and mini golf course interconnected to it all. Chickens, a potbelly pig, and a sheep dog wander the grounds while visitors can see baby goats, donkeys, and horses in the fields. A Stonehenge type sculpture surrounds a camp fire where you can roast marshmallows every day. What’s not to love about this place? It set the perfect stage for a peaceful sunset photo shoot for a family who has so much beauty and joy to share.
The Larsons have three beautiful children with a baby due in August. 8- year-old Quinn is their Hope Kid. Just three weeks shy of his 5th birthday, Quinn fell from a window two-stories up in their home. He suffered severe injuries to his head from the fall and wasn’t expected to survive. After spending a month in the hospital, he miraculously recovered and only required outpatient therapy once a week. He seemed to be functioning normally in less than 3 months after the devastating fall. However, 6 months after his fall he contracted meningitis resulting in severe brain damage. Quinn battled meningitis for 5 months in three different hospitals, but he simply wasn’t recovering well enough, and the Larson’s brought him home in basically a vegetative state. He lost his ability to see, speak, talk, eat on his own, drink, walk, and even to hold his head up.
Amy and Curtis Larson never gave up on Quinn and have worked with him every day for over 3 years. It was as if his body was starting life over as it recovered. When Quinn should have been learning letters in Kindergarten, Quinn was conquering even bigger challenges. He re-learned how to hold his head up, eat, sit up unassisted, and bear weight on his legs for short periods of time. He regained his sight, but struggles to see peripherally. He has cochlear implants so he can now hear sounds, but it is not certain yet how his brain is processing those sounds. Does human speech sound different than the sound of a bird singing? They are not able to determine that yet. However, he has learned to communicate using a limited amount of sign language. Each day, he pushes on. As he relearns how to balance his body and use his legs, focus with his eyes, swallow his food, express himself with his loved ones, the Larsons hold on to Hope. Each day is a miracle for Quinn. He has surpassed the doctors’ expectations and they are amazed at his progress and how his body continues to recover.
The Larsons have learned to have no expectations. In the midst of these inconceivable trials, their son has taught them and others so much about strength, the peace that is found in surrendering all to God’s care, and that no circumstance can steal the love and joy that God has placed in His children. They have placed no limits on Quinn’s capacity to heal and to be whom God created him to be.
Despite his physical challenges, he is still the same joyful and mischievous boy that he always was. His capacity to love others is insurmountable. Throughout our time together, he never ceased to amaze me. He and his family wore their super hero t-shirts proudly to celebrate the hero that Quinn truly is. When all of the odds were stacked against him, he survived a fall that should have killed him and is overcoming an illness which should have prevented him from living life. Instead, he wears his Spider Man t-shirt proudly and will show you the sign for Spiderman whatever chance he gets. During photos, he was simply a silly 8-year-old who tried to do bunny ears behind his mom’s head during a picture or laughed at the chickens, goats, and horses that filled that special place on that wonderful evening. As the evening progressed, this family simply got to enjoy being a family – happy just to be together. Quinn’s little sisters have sparkly blue eyes and are gentle and kind, yet full of energy. In August, they will have a brand-new sister to add even more joy and energy to the mix!
This family keeps moving forward on their journey through life with God leading them by the hand. As Amy told me, you cannot put God or Quinn in a box. Quinn has a battle in front of him, but through God’s strength leading him on, his journey is just beginning. He will continue to fight, he will continue to surpass the odds, and inspire those around him as the incredible super hero God created him to be.