A picture may be worth a thousand words, but sometimes it's worth even more.
For Deneen Bryan, a photo of her young family of four taken at Mayo Clinic Hospital-Saint Marys by a kind stranger was the spark that set her on a path to starting a nonprofit and helping families the way the unknown photographer helped hers. Bryan, who now calls North Carolina home, spent time in 1997 and 1998 in Rochester at the Mayo Clinic.
On Oct. 25, 1997, Bryan gave birth to her daughter, Anna Christina Diane Bryan. Born with a liver disease, Christina, as her family called her, ended up going to Mayo Clinic Hospital for treatment. The family had been living in Ireland but returned to the U.S. for Christina's medical treatment.
"We sat in the pediatric hospital room day after day with her, when one day a man came to our room and said he was a photographer and was going to do photos in the child life room for any family that wanted them," Bryan wrote in a Facebook post. "This is something we had not even thought about doing at the time, but what a great way to take our minds off of other things for a few minutes of something fun. We took our little family of 4 down to the child life room and he captured our photos."
Around the time of Christina's death in April 1998, the photos arrived at the family's home.
More than two decades later, the photos that man took still have a prominent place in Bryan's home and in her life. In North Carolina, she started volunteering for Ronald McDonald House and began taking photographs of infants in the neonatal intensive care unit. That ultimately led her to starting the nonprofit Capturing Hopes Photography, which now has volunteers across the country who take photos of infants and their families in NICUs nationwide.
On what would have been Anna Christina’s 22nd birthday, Bryan took to her Facebook with a mission — find the photographer who captured the photo of her little family and sent Bryan on the path to her future career.
Since making the post on Friday, it has been shared nearly 400 times. Representatives from Mayo Clinic have reached out to Bryan in an effort to help her track down the photographer.
“What I want him to know is the impact he made on our family, not just the photo itself, which we appreciated, but just the kindness he showed in coming in and doing what he did” Bryan said of her desire to learn the identity of the photographer.
She doesn't remember much about the photographer, she knows he was a man and said when he took the photo "he did it very old school."
“I also want him to know the impact he had on me to where I remembered it so many years later and thought, ‘That’s what I want to do. That’s exactly what I want to do,’” she said. “I want him to know he really made a huge impact on people’s lives.”