Taking Flight: Picture Perfect Smile

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MEDFORD, Ore. – A good photo means capturing that smile. Tim Tidball is taking pictures of the happy moments, because of the hard ones.

“It helps tell their story, it shows what these kids are going through,” Tidball said.

Since 2010, Tim has taken photos of the children adopted as sparrows. The pictures are used to introduce schools to their sparrows. On this day, the “perfect” images were created by a baby and her smile.

“She was sweet and perfect and god has given her the personality to get through this and still smile,” Andrea Smith said.

Lydia smith turns one year old next week, but her first year hasn’t been an easy one. First, being diagnosed with moderate to severe hearing loss, then with Retinoblastoma, a childhood cancer of the eye.

After chemotherapy, she is in the clear for now. But Lydia will have to travel to Portland every month for the next four years for an MRI.

“I don’t’ want to ride the roller coaster, so if we get bad news we’re going to deal with it,” Lydia’s father Kevin said. “If we get good news, great. Every month could be a game changer.”

It’s for that reason, we’re here today with Lydia, one of this year’s newest sparrows, easily grabbing the camera’s attention. But behind the camera and behind the smile, were much darker days.

“There’s been a couple times when the kids have left, and the families have left, and I try to keep it together but I kind of break down,” Tim explained. “Because it kind of makes everything come back to what I went through, what we went through. My wife and I.”

Tim understands the pain many of the sparrow parents go through, watching a child fight for their life; and in Tim’s case, losing two children, both in infancy, to a rare DNA depletion disorder.

“It’s been 20 years but it’s still there with you, it’s still heartbreaking,” Tim said. “But you can turn it around and make it something positive and incorporate that into someone else’s life and help them through it, because it’s tough emotionally, just really draining.”

Tim is now helping the parents like him forget the hard times, at least for a moment.

“Fun, I want to make it fun,” Tim said. “I don’t want to make it stiff, let’s all huddle around and be uptight about the whole thing. It’s gotta be laughter, and it’s gotta be fun.”

Tim Tidball Photography donates all of the photos taken to sparrow clubs.


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  1. Kimberly Bruhn says:

    Great story, Danielle.

    Michael was a sparrow in 2009 and a photographer took his pictures. I was just looking at the family portrait yesterday and it made me cry…he was just a young boy (11)….and it was one of the only times in his front-line (3 years plus)treatments that he threw up (right into the photographer’s waste basket…poor guy. Not sure if it was Tim…it was a studio downtown Medford (across from the Craterian). So glad we have these mementos. Thank you again for the story on Michael’s Celebration.


  2. Jaylene Wood says:

    Danielle you did a great job with this story!

    What an awesome photographer! Beautiful photos!

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