COLUMBIA, SC – Javier (“Javi”) Franco was born with Down Syndrome and a long-gap esophageal atresia. He spent his first 81 days in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit where he endured multiple surgeries. On his first birthday, Javi was taken via a med-flight to Boston Children's hospital for another surgery addressing complications with his esophagus.
“Javi had a rough start to life, but he is now thriving, and the happiest little boy you could ever imagine” says his mom, Shelli. “We look at our adorable son and feel grateful to have him in our lives. It’s exciting to think about what is next for him!”
The Franco family is serving as Ambassadors for Family Connection of South Carolina’s annual LOOK! Photography Exhibit—a collection offering an inspiring glimpse into the lives of children and young people who have a disability or chronic health condition. To create the exhibit, professional photographers from across the state volunteered their time to host photo sessions with more than 60 families who have received services from the organization. Annually, Family Connection serves more than 4,000 families across South Carolina.
“With most of our family living out of state, Family Connection has been central in helping us to gain the local support that has been so instrumental in helping Javi reach his potential” explains Javier’s dad, Alfonso. “We are honored to serve as the LOOK! Ambassador Family and we encourage everyone to visit this extraordinary photography exhibit.”
The 2022 LOOK! Exhibit, presented by Groucho’s Deli, will open at a private reception for the participating families, photographers, and sponsors at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 23rd at the Richland Library Gallery in downtown Columbia. The exhibit opens to the public on July 24th and will run through September 16th.
“We are delighted to bring LOOK! to the gallery at Richland Library” said Amy Holbert, CEO of Family Connection. “This exhibit speaks to our values of creating inclusion, equity, and community. The intent of LOOK! is to highlight the beauty and unique abilities of the individual being photographed. We hope those who view the exhibit will take a moment to reflect and see the joy in everyday moments as experienced by these children and youth who also happen to be living with a disability,” added Holbert.
"Richland Library is excited to welcome the Look! exhibit to our Gallery at Main in 2022. We are dedicated to supporting and celebrating the diversity within our great community and believe that positive art experiences, provide opportunities for children to see themselves and empathize with others. And that makes a significant impact on us all" stated Ashley Warthen, Arts Coordinator.
In addition to Groucho’s Deli as Presenting Sponsor, LOOK! 2022 is sponsored by Healthy BlueSM, BlueChoice® HealthPlan of South Carolina, McGuire Woods Consulting, Richland/Lexington Disabilities and Special Needs Board, Palmetto Pediatrics, B106.7 FM, and HealthLinks Magazine. Sponsorship and donation opportunities are still available and can be found at www.familyconnectionsc.org/look/ or by calling 803-995-1413.
Harold “Groucho” Miller came to Columbia, South Carolina in 1941 with a handful of original recipes for potato salad, coleslaw, and various salad and sandwich dressings, most of which were thought up during his childhood in a Philadelphia orphanage. These humble beginnings, along with the idea that “quality is the most important ingredient in a sandwich” are only where this story begins. Throughout the generations, Groucho’s Deli has held true to the idea of using only the highest quality products and ingredients, which has, in turn, led Groucho’s® to legendary status. Since Groucho’s first Franchise in Lexington, SC (2000), Groucho’s® has grown into multiple cities across South and North Carolina and Georgia. From Groucho’s humble beginning to expansion into new territories, the goal of each Groucho’s location is to be “Your Neighborhood Deli”.
For more than 30 years, Family Connection of South Carolina has been changing lives by making connections, raising awareness, and promoting inclusion for those with disabilities and chronic health conditions. We offer programs and services to ensure that parents, professionals, and caregivers have access to available resources to help children reach their full potential. Our work focuses on peer-to-peer support, healthcare, education, training, and advocacy. For more information visit www.familyconnectionsc.org or call 1-800-578-8750.
Funds raised from LOOK! 2022 support Family Connection’s programs, resources, and services, which are offered at no cost to families.
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