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Issue Date: January 2008


Allison Clarke

Founder of Flashes of Hope

Age • 37

Why she’s interesting • When her son was diagnosed with cancer at 20 months, she and her husband made the hospital their second home. But it wasn’t until one of her son’s new little friends died that she realized what she’d do the rest of her life. Flashes of Hope, a nonprofit dedicated to producing inspirational portraits of children battling life-threatening illnesses, was born. That was six years ago. More than 2,500 children were photographed last year in 19 cities.

Why Flashes of Hope is successful • It is run like a business, with a main office in Beachwood that distributes complete tool kits to carefully chosen chapter directors in cities throughout the U.S. Though there is a waiting list of people wanting to establish chapters, the desire for slow and controlled growth means that only five to 10 new ones will be added this year.

Advice on starting a nonprofit • Ask a lot of questions of a lot of people. “The entire first year was asking for business advice.” Asking for money came later.

How’s her son? • Quinn is in second grade and doing great being a typical 8-year-old — something he’s worked hard to become.

Heart-touching moments • Teenagers are a joy. “I like to watch them be transformed and come to life in front of the camera. They start to act like Tyra Banks, and you can’t help but feel good.” The little kids are always adorable. Four-year-old Jordyn has been sick her entire life, yet shows up to shoots wearing silly hats, all sort of beads around her neck and a different bikini outfit each time.

Her plans • To photograph 12,000 kids (the number of children diagnosed with cancer each year)

A new life • If your child has cancer and survives, the experience is a gift. “It’s the best thing that’s ever happened to us. ... It changes your everyday life and the way you look at things.”

Perspective • “Broken arms and tonsils don’t bother us much now.”

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