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Alyssa with her dad, Duane Hagstrom. PHOTOS BY JENNIFER KACZMAREK
Palm Coast Thursday, Apr. 7, 2011 8 years ago

Love for Alyssa, in photos

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by: Shanna Fortier Associate Editor

Photographer Jennifer Kaczmerek is at work on a project to raise money for Alyssa Hagstrom, who was born with arthrogryposis.

Like all art, photography is a way to be heard. Some artists want to shout, but Jennifer Kaczmerek wants to give a voice to a 7-year-old girl.

Alyssa Hagstrom was born with arthrogryposis, a condition that has left her with no use of her legs and arms, and limited use of her fingers.

The two met at the girl’s fifth birthday, and Kaczmerek was hooked.

“She really is just something uniquely special — she has an amazing spirit about her,” Kaczmerek said.
Two years later, Kaczmerek wanted to do something to help.

“Love for Alyssa” is a photographic diary meant to raise money to pay for a wheelchair-accessible van, therapy, equipment and long-term personal care for Alyssa, daughter of single-father Duane Hagstrom.

“I can’t imagine what it must be like for Duane, when you have someone that can’t do anything for themselves,” Kaczmerek said. “My goal is to make images that are compelling enough for others to put themselves in her shoes, and in Duane’s shoes.”

Duane Hagstrom, a teacher and coach at Flagler Palm Coast High School, gives back to the community everyday, Kaczmerek said. Through this project, she hopes to not only raise money for Alyssa’s care but also to inspire others in the community to give back.

The project, which will be on exhibit starting March 10, 2012, at Hollingsworth Gallery, will feature a series of framed, 30-by-40 inch photographs.

But before any of that can happen, Love for Alyssa, which is going through the proper steps to become a 501(3)c, must get more funding.

Kaczmerek is specifically looking for individuals and businesses to sponsor each photograph that will be on display.

“I want people to know that this is all about giving back and supporting one another,” Kaczmerek said. “That is why we gladly promote anyone’s business by acknowledging them next to an image at the exhibit, which if we are able to tour it to raise more funds ­— their name will stay with an image.”

Kaczmerek added, “The road ahead will not be easy, but the impact of this project would help bring light on many levels.  Especially to help maintain that amazing spirit that Alyssa possesses.”

For more photos of Alyssa and to donate to the project, visit www.lovefor alyssa.com.

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