LIHUE — A week before leaving on his honeymoon trip to Kauai in June, Los Angeles resident Jared Schoenemann received a heart-breaking phone call.
His best friend’s 2-year-old son, Ryan Benny, had been diagnosed with leukemia.
“It kind of cast a sad shadow on our trip, so to speak,” Schoenemann said.
Being a photographer, Schoenemann had every intention of shooting tons of photos while on the Garden Island. Initially, his plan was to sell prints of his Kauai photos and donate the proceeds to an island charity or nonprofit, perhaps to fund beach cleanups.
That was his idea, until he thought of his friend Matt and his young son.
Schoenemann has pledged to sell his Kauai collection to raise money to allow Ryan’s family to visit Kauai, as well as to benefit Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Center for Cancer & Blood Disorders.
“It would be good for the family if, once he’s healed, he can go to the island,” Schoenemann said. “It just feels like there’s magic there.”
Young Ryan has about three years left of treatment, which gives Schoenemann just as much time to sell out the series and raise the funds for both causes.
“If we were rich, we’d fly them out in a heartbeat,” he said.
Schoenemann says he’s just a photographer who got a call one day and thought of a way to help some close friends.
“I think, at some point, most of us that create things ultimately feel it’s pointless to create those things if they don’t do any good,” he writes. “If I can sell enough prints to send the family on vacation, help out the hospital and do some good, that would really be something.”
Ryan is going through chemotherapy and is doing OK, Schoenemann reported.
“He’s a tough little kid,” he said.