Lucky Livermore, 14 years old, representing The Pablove Foundation, was the youngest photographer among the press covering the red carpet parade before the recent HFPA Grants Dinner, but he had no match in courage and life experience.
Pablove teaches photography to children with cancer, using the HFPA grant to provide cameras and lessons to hundreds of youngsters across the country. Each student is a portrait in courage, but Lucky's story is perhaps the most unusual.
"You heard correctly," he said. "My name is Lucky because I'm lucky to be alive. When my mom was 12 weeks pregnant with me, the doctors told my parents that I wouldn’t survive. They feared that my mom may die delivering me, and suggested aborting me. My mom refused, she said "No. If I am going to die, it's God's will.”
Lucky was born at 25 weeks. He weighed 1 pound 10 ounces and was kept in the NICU for four months on a breathing machine. His parents were told that Lucky would never be able to walk or talk. He survived using an oxygen tank. Then at almost one year old, Lucky was diagnosed with an advanced stage of liver cancer. It took seven months of chemotherapy to shrink the tumor, surgery to remove it, and then, more chemotherapy. For the next five years, Lucky had to get scanned quarterly. When he turned ten he was finally declared cancer-free.
"I still get monitored yearly, for the rest of my life." Lucky said, "I am happy that chemotherapy saved my life, but I do have some complications from it. I have hearing loss and I grow very slow, and I will remain small because chemotherapy has affected my joints."
But his spirit and optimism were not affected, and Pablove helped. Lucky gives credit to the Pablove Shutterbugs program. "Before Shutterbugs I didn’t know much about photography besides taking selfies. But then a classmate told me about Pablove. He explained that I would be in class with other kids my age that have also been affected by cancer and we would each have our own personal mentor for ten weeks that will teach us a lot about taking pictures in different ways. I thought that would be great because I had never used a real camera."
The photography program that the HFPA supports with a grant, is offered to cancer patients in Los Angeles and 7 other cities. "Shutterbugs taught me how to work a camera and gave me ideas on how to take pictures and capture all the beauty that is around us, "Lucky said, "The hawkeye and snake eye" lessons taught me how to take pictures of things that I can’t see on my own, but with the camera I can. I have been in the Pablove Shutterbugs program for three years now. My favorite subjects are nature: leaves, trees, plants. I look back at my pictures and it puts a smile on my face."
And he has a message for the sponsors: "What I would tell other people about Shutterbugs is that taking pictures makes you feel happy. You will learn new ways to see with a camera, and it is a lot of fun. Thank you Pablove."
The glitz and glitter of the Grants Banquet and the red carpet he photographed were far removed from his beloved nature subjects and a new experience. But Lucky was not fazed. "I thought the grants banquet was amazing. I loved hearing how many different organizations you help financially, with most of them being for children."
And meeting famous actors? "Oh, gosh. Where do I start? So many people! The person I wanted to meet the most was James Corden. My other favorites were Julia Butters from Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood and Renee Zellweger. I thought it was all so awesome! I’ve only seen the red carpet on T.V. so it was really cool seeing it in person, being there, taking part."
Photography will always be a passion, but Lucky set his goals high: "I have a lot of dreams, but my two biggest dreams are becoming an actor or a baseball player."
And you know that Lucky will realize his dreams.