It's been a long time since I wrote a journal… it's been quite a while since I was active anyway! It's about time I tried and change all that laziness into something productive!
Now this journal is not so much an update on what keeps me busy these days but more of an extended story of a very, very special photo submission of a moment in my life that I'll never forget.
The moment I am talking about is the life-changing hug you can see below.
Now let the story begin;
ittle more than a year ago I was taking on the challenge of getting my drivers license. My instructor was an awesome guy and was interested in photography just like me! During the many hours we spent driving around we also spoke of fursuiting a lot because I just love to tell people about what keeps me busy and the things I enjoy doing.
During one driving lesson I spoke of the idea of fursuiting in the local zoo "Diergaarde Blijdorp" in Rotterdam. My instructor instantly interrupted me and said he could arrange the possibility of doing so during a very special event for very special children!T
his event turned out to be the "Dreamnight at the Zoo". The initiative for this project started in 1996 in Blijdorp when they invited children with cancer and other life threatening diseases to visit their zoo exclusively after closing time. The park was open only for them, their parents, brothers and sisters and of course the grandparents that all love them very much. Now, many years later the concept became big. Bigger than anyone could have ever expected! Nowadays hundreds of zoos and theme parks all over the world open their doors once a year just for children that really need a day out of their hospitalized lives.
Me, FurryFursuitMaker and two friends went to the event and we experience so many wonderful moments… But one of them I'll never forget for the rest of my life.O
ne of the children attending this event was Phéline, the little wondergirl as she turned out to be.
At the time Phéline was about 2 years old and fighting leukemia, blood cancer. Phéline's parents told us that the Doctors estimated she would have just a few weeks left to live… We felt very honored that we could be there just to make her smile for a while.
The theme for this edition of the Dreamnight was "Butterflies". just before the event I bought a set of colorful wings for every fursuiter to wear and when we were finally there the children just kept coming at us, they all wanted a hug, a photo or a little shy handshake if they were a bit afraid.
Phéline loved butterflies and her favorite color was pink… You do the math. At the moment she spotted Pinky she instantly fell in love and the hug that followed was heartbreakingly beautiful.
I was just a few meters ahead and didn't see it myself but a good friend and professional photographer accompanied us and when he walked up to me and showed the photo… I was nailed to the ground and tears started to roll over my face in my fursuit. It was such a beautiful moment he captured, displaying so much warmth and happiness, yet painful reality as well.A
fter the event we had a drink with all the volunteers who entertained the children and we were overloaded with enthusiasm and praise. It turned out everyone was talking about "the people in costumes". It was amazing for the kids that evening, but receiving so much gratitude for just doing what we love to do… that felt great!I
n the beauty of the moment we forgot to exchange contact details and in the months after the event we couldn't find Phéline or her parents. Painful as it was we assumed she indeed had passed…
In those months I worked as a technician, checking and uploading presentations of large congresses to a central server. I also had to fix any problems there might have been with video or audio fragments in said presentations.
One day there was a Pediatric congress. Pediatric concerns health care related to children. A lot of doctors and nurses attended the event including an Intensive Care nurse from the Sophia Children Hospital in Rotterdam. She was very proud of a video that turned out to be corrupted and I offered to help her and pulled out my personal system and tried rendering the entire video in a different format. It took me an hour and in that time she noticed my desktop wallpapers, which were fursuits I had photographed.
"Oh! I remember those from the Dreamnight! those were lovely" she told me. When I explained that I owned a fursuit myself she invited us to visit the Sophia Children Hospital TV studio! The Sophia ChildrenTV channel is a channel that only the kids department of the hospital can receive in their rooms. The shows are filmed in their own studio and children can walk in and out at any time! It's all for them and completely run by volunteers!TranceCat and Pinky went to visit and had a great day with all the children there!
Faces are blurred for privacy reasons
After the broadcast both me and FurryfursuitMaker had a chance to tell how we experienced the whole day and we both really enjoyed it! Though visiting some children who couldn't come to the studio themselves was a tougher experience than we expected. Seeing all those kids in hospital beds, some for just a few weeks, others for most of their lives, long or short. That makes a person realize how good we actually have it in this world. And yet we always tend to complain about our own lives or daily little troubles.
As a technician I felt I could offer them my help and I joined the SophiaTV team as cameraman and audio engineer! In the weeks that followed I truly enjoyed filming and helping out where I could. And then an idea sparked in me...I
nside my mind the idea for a special project was forming. I wanted to give those kids something they rarely experienced in their daily lives; A party!
Years ago I used to own a drive in Disco show and I still have most of my equipment. I offered all of that and no less than 9 fursuiters to the hospital and I promised to take care of everything they'd need. to make sure that everyone in the hospital would know about the party I asked FurryFursuitMaker to design and make an awesome poster that we could spread through the building. And so we did.
The poster was created by FurryfursuitMaker and featured a photo of every fursuit that would be on the dance floor, including Pinky
(Click on the poster to view it in large size!)O
n the day of the party I hoisted all my equipment and a lovely LED Starlight backdrop from my work to the hospital and set up everything with the help from all the volunteers and friends. Then a good friend named Danielle who works at the hospital took me and Nicole apart to share some news with us.
She started off: "Pinky her greatest fan has been asking where her best friend was all week. Ever since she saw the posters hanging around she asked if Pinky would visit her soon"
Both Nicole and me were a little confused. "Pinky her best friend" and "Her greatest fan"
Could this mean… that… "it can't be" both me and Nicole thought to ourselves.
Danielle continued: "Phéline really loves Pinky and has never really stopped talking about her bestie after the Dreamnight at the Zoo."
It hit us hard and disbelief and happiness made our eyes a little watery. After all these months Phéline was still with us. Against all odds she proved that she's a very special wondergirl!
In all these weeks/months that I worked as a volunteer I never saw little PhélineO
f course Pinky loved to visit Phéline and soon after we heard the news the moment was there. I wasn't there, but luckily our good friend Danielle went with Pinky and took some photos! This time we made sure to get contact details of Phéline her parents and after the visit the party started! And guess what!? Phéline joined us on the dance floor too!!
Left Photo originally uploaded by FurryFursuitMaker Middle+Right Photo by Richard Osseweijer
ow that we learned that Phéline was so strong, still alive and kicking, FurryFursuitMaker wanted to treat her greatest fan with a special gift around Christmas: Another visit and her own Pinky plush to cuddle with and a custom Pinky poster (with butterflies!) for on her wall!
Sadly due to a bacterial infection the doctors would not allow Pinky in so a good friend of Pinky brought the gifts to Phéline with a Christmas greeting card with, of course, Pinky on it!
From left to right: Phéline's father, mother, Phéline herself, (Pinky-Plushy), and Pinky's friend Nicole (FurryFursuitMaker)
Photography by FotoFurNL N
ow I can hear you all thinking: "This can't get any better!" But let me tell you that it most definitely can get better still!
Phéline was immensely happy with her very own Pinky-Plushy and grew to love it to bits. So much that when a doctor had to perform a treatment Pinky would have to endure it first so Phéline would have Pinky by her side and they both went through the same. So when she got an injection, Pinky got it too and when after along day in the hospital it was time to sleep; Pinky was right there by Phélines side.
A few months went by and Phéline was about to turn 3 years old and there would be a birthday party with all of her family and friends. This of course meant that Pinky was invited too and Pinky just loves birthday parties! So there I went, together with Pinky and my camera we surprised Phéline once more:
Phéline was so surprised and proud that her best friend Pinky visited her birthday party, she simply didn't ever want her to leave and she held on to her when she heard it was time for Pinky to go home.
Today Phéline is back home but still sick, however she is doing much better than before. And we keep hoping that she will get better someday soon. Whatever happens, Pinky will be there with her.
That's the whole wonderful story of Phéline, the little wondergirl! She showed us once more and very intensely what fursuiting can mean to someone. This story will forever make me proud of what I do, be it photography or fursuiting itself. This story is the very reason that makes Fursuiting so amazing to me.
This, is the essence of Fursuiting.
If you read this story all the way through you will understand how proud I am of FurryFursuitMaker and all that she does to make people smile. Making the costumes, wearing them herself and using them to brighten the days of people who truly need it. Make sure to pay her DA page a visit and tell her if you too are touched by what she did for little wondergirl Phéline:
All photos are posted with permission from:
Their respective photographers
The organizations the photos were shot for