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Girl With Down Syndrome and Cancer Has Priceless Reaction to Portrait of Herself

On October 1 Rhode Island-based photographer Laura Kilgus hosted a gallery show to bring her community together for Down Syndrome Awareness Month, and not surprisingly, it was a smash success.

Kilgus told The Mighty in an email that nearly 200 people showed up to the event, and it was a “happy tears” kind of night. She added that the kids’ reactions to their own portraits were priceless, but she was especially moved by 5-year-old Celia, with whom she’s done a number of portrait sessions over the years. Celia is currently undergoing treatment for cancer.

Image courtesy of Laura Kilgus/9ten Photography

“Celia’s smile was so huge when she looked at the photos of her and her sister, Ava,” Kilgus told The Mighty. “She pointed and knew exactly who that was. She also pointed and smiled at the photo below hers of her friends. She said, ‘That’s Ryan! That’s Logan!’ Seeing her light up with that same happiness showcased in that image was something I will never forget. It was really a special moment to witness. I can’t imagine what that must have been like for her.”

Kilgus said Celia was playing with other children in the hall and “even doing some cartwheels, Celia style!”

Image courtesy of Laura Kilgus/9ten Photography

Celia’s mom, Katie Furtado, said the portraits of her daughters is giving them hope for the future.

“It reminds me of a different time, an easier time,” she told The Mighty in an email. “It is a wonderful memory, exactly what a picture is supposed to be, I guess. It was before Celia was diagnosed with cancer, before she lost her hair and before she became too weak to walk. We will get back there, she will walk again and run through the park again, but until that day, we have this beautiful memory and nothing can replace that.”

Check out more of Laura Kilgus’ photographer on her website, 9ten Photography.