Children with complicated medical conditions often face unimaginable challenges. One Anchorage photographer wants to make sure people recognize them not for being different, but as triumphant warriors.


Earlier this summer, we told you the story of Willow Stennett, a baby with two holes in her heart that had to travel out of state for surgery. Now Willow is six months old and healthy.


Her mother, Laura Stennett, said she is grateful for all those who supported her family emotionally and financially during the difficult time. She’s come up with her own way to “pay it forward” to other families in similar circumstances.


“I’m a photographer and really the only meaningful thing I have to offer are photos,” Stennett said.


The mother of four decided that each month she would gift a free photo session to a special child that is going through some kind of medical journey, struggle or learning disability.


The only “catch” is that Stennett is asking their parents to write a brief summary of their story and experiences. The stories and photos will be posted to a new blog called “Warrior Kids of Alaska.”


Stennett said she hopes that by sharing the stories and photos, she can help build a stronger community.


“Finding people in your community dealing with the exact same thing can be hard,” Stennett said. “I thought it would be cool to create something that would give everyone a voice and put it all in one place.”


Since Stennett started Warrior Kids of Alaska, more than a dozen other photographers have pledged to join in as well. So instead of updating the blog monthly, the plan now is to feature a different child every Wednesday.


KTVA 11’s Shannon Ballard can be reached via email or on Facebook and Twitter.


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