Today I would like to share with you a project that a close friend of mine is working on called “The Red Fred Project” and it is about a man (a photographer and artist) who is seeking out 50 critically ill children in 50 states to co-author 50 children’s books with him. He is giving these children a voice and a chance to write a story.
My intent in sharing this project is 3 fold:
1- To let you know of some good that is being done in this world.
2- To see if you know of any children throughout the United States that could be a part of this project.
3- If you feel so inclined, to donate a few of your hard earned dollars to help make this a possibility.
Shannon: I want to introduce everyone to one of my dear friends, Dallas Graham. How long do you think we have known each other?
Dal: Well, in dog years, I’d have to say 119 years (I’ll let your readership to the math). We’ve also known one another long enough and are dear enough, that you immediately refer to me as “Dal” which only my nearest and dearest do.
Shannon: Dal and I met when we both worked for the EFY (Especially For Youth) program. I think things have changed a lot in that program now, but we worked in the day they flew counselors all around the country. One summer Dal and I had almost identical schedules – we were all over the country from BYU, to “Ricks”, Atlanta, Washington, Indiana, Arizona… which was the beginning of a solid friendship. We have a lot of stories we could share about those days.
Dal: LOTS. And Shannon has a far better memory than I do, so she should really fill this page up. I’ll just bring up the most significant memory: Shannon almost made it a point of NOT meeting me. I guess there was a funny perception thing going on among us (you know how 20somethings can be), but once we were able to sit across from one another—or rather, hitch a ride from the Helaman Halls to the Wilk, it was immediate and sky-filled friendship, over hundreds of miles, while championing youth.
Shannon: One of my favorite memories was when I was watching General Conference at your home and President Uchtdorf was called into the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Your parents are friends with he and his wife and I will never forget your mother’s mixed emotions. Of course she was so incredibly excited, but she also felt the sadness of realizing that meant they wouldn’t be moving back to Germany to be near their children and grandchildren. It was a moving moment because I don’t know how often we stop and realize the sacrifice they make for us.
Dal: The Uchtdorfs are such lovely, dear people. They have always been so warm towards me and our family. I remember that same thought: you don’t quite realize, on a personal level, what these wonderful people sacrifice in order to serve in their roles and capacities.
Shannon: You studied graphic design at BYU, you are a photographer – in fact, you were our photographer at our wedding and did an amazing job! After years of refining your gifts, you are using them in an incredible way. Can you talk about the project you are working on?
Dal: The Red Fred Project is a star-crossed collaboration between me and 50 children with critical illnesses. I’m creating original, one-of-a-kind children’s books with each of them. Each child is the creative boss; I’m just there to bring the story to life through photography, design and a likable group of birds called The Jolly Troop (www.thejollytroop.com). The books become many magical things: a lasting voice for these children’s beautiful stories; a tangible achievement for each child (we’re going to have book-signing events for every one!); a way to help parents pay steep medical bills (the proceeds of each book go straight to them). You see? The magic multiplies, lives on forever—readers are inspired by the wisdom and imagination of these children.
Shannon: You have already done one book with a boy named Nathan , what was that experience like for you?
Photo of Nathan. Co- Author of Climbing with Tigers.
Dal: It was a lot of happy, gold-lined work. For Nathan and for me. Figuring out time frames, how much content to give him, how long visits could be, scheduling with his health appointments, learning to communicate possibly complex ideas with a little boy, editing, formatting the book, making the style guide for all the books, proofing… it all added up to doing what I do most days. The only difference is that this book we were creating was an actual opportunity to express something finely nuanced and beautiful. So as you can probably imagine: my desire to stay true to his vision was one of the best “client” experiences I’ve ever had.
Shannon: Are you looking for other children to co-author books with?
Dal: Our initial goal with the Red Fred Project is to create 50 books with 50 children across the 50 states. So, yes. We are super thrilled about our recent news: we’ve found the children for Idaho and California. We are also working on Tennessee, Texas and Washington. We are trying to find children of all demographics and ethnicities and from different social strata to make this an accurate description of what we want: that these children represent everyone! The selection process, as you can imagine, is handled with the greatest care and love. I want to help hundreds, and I have a plan on how that’s going to work, but we need to lay the ground work of these first 50 so our project has bigger wings to cover the hundreds we will eventually work with.
Dal: We have a shop on www.redfredproject.com. Just click on the tab that says “shop.” As we complete each book, they will be listed and available for purchase. And remember: the proceeds of that child’s book go to him or her!
Photo of Nathan receiving the book
Shannon: All proceeds go to the families to help pay for medical bills. What a gift Dal! You are funding this through a program called Kickstarter. Can you tell us about this?
Dal: Kickstarter is the largest, crowd-funding company on the web. What does that mean? Kickstarter is a great platform for people like me that have an idea but simply needs some funds to get it “kickstarted.” There is LOTS of exposure to this site and all sorts of interesting project you can browse through. Thousands of eyes go over it everyday, so you have a better chance of getting good exposure, nationally, if you’re using them. There is a catch: they are all or nothing. What do I mean? Well, if you don’t reach your pledge goal, by your decided time, none of the monies your backers have pledged leaves their bank account and the project isn’t funded. If, however, you meet or exceed your pledge goal, the project is funded. It makes for a great sense of urgency and call people to take action if they believe a project is worth backing. That’s why we’re doing it: we believe our project will change hundreds of lives: not just the kids making the books, but more specifically, the people around them. Like you and me. You can visit and pledge on our page untilSunday night, 6:00p, MST. www.tinyurl.com/redfred
Shannon: If your project is funded, what are your next steps?
Dal: We already are in talks with Shaelyn (7 year old with stage 3 melanoma) from Idaho and scheduling a Skype visit with Jordan (14 year old with neuroglial brain tumors she’s had for 10 years). We will then set up the visits and I will fly to their home and work with them, one on one. During this time, we’ll be getting the other children ready and selecting as we get referrals. After the 50 are done, we are going to have the most amazing library of children’s books, created by children that have a very unique and powerful view of the world. Can you imagine seeing all of these in a hospital? Or treatment center? Or elementary library? Or a home? We are thrilled to be able to work with these children and help them create powerful legacies, hardbound and winged with colorful pages.
Nathan autographing Climbing with Tigers
Shannon: I can only imagine what a blessing it is for the entire family to offer something like this to their children, not to mention everyone who gets to read their books. You can read more about this project HERE, and if you know of a child who would be a good fit for this project, you can contact Dal at: www.redfredproject.com
You can also watch this video to see this in the works: (If the video doesn’t show for some reason, you can see it HERE.)