I never feel more lucky to be doing my job than when I can really get to know people while shooting a story. And recently I have been blessed to be welcomed into the lives of so many families who are all going through something extraordinary. In the last few months 18 families have moved to Colorado - and 14 more will be following them here soon - in search of cannabis for their children.
Mohamad Halabi holds his daughter, Mia, as she seizes after arriving in Colorado from New York Saturday, October 12, 2013. Mia has 10-15 seizures a day with her current drug regimen. Before the drugs she would have hundreds each day.
The kids are all battling severe seizure disorders. Some have hundreds of seizures a day, while others only have a few seizures per month, but they may last up to six hours. For everyone, medical marijuana seemed like the last option. With Colorado's new laws and a group of six brothers - the Stanley brothers - growing a strain of marijuana with none of the psychoactive THC that gets smokers high, parents are flocking to the area to give their children the oil from the plant and a new hope at life.
Mohamad Halabi wraps his daughter, Mia, in a blanket outside the Denver International Airport after his wife, daughter, son and mother arrived in Colorado from New York Saturday, October 12, 2013. The family uprooted their lives in New York in order to give their daughter a chance at a normal life using a cannabis oil made from Charlotte's Web: a strain of marijuana high in cannabidiol that is thought to stop or reduce seizures.
Of the two kids who have been on the oil for a year, one has dropped from having 300 seizures a week, to having one. The other child just celebrated one year seizure free. For now, the families who have moved here are waiting for the next crop to be harvested, and hope to wean their kids off prescription drugs and onto the cannabis oil in the next few weeks. The following are frames from people arriving and waiting to get on the oil. Click here
to read the full story and stay tuned for more photos to come.
Mia Halabi, right, rests from a seizure after her mother, Miriam Khaled, center, and grandmother, Hoda Halabi, left, set her down in her new Colorado Springs home Saturday, October 12, 2013. The family moved from New York for Mia, who has 10-15 seizures a day, in hopes of treating her epilepsy with the oil from the cannabis strain Charlotte's Web.
Mohamad Halabi drove to Colorado two weeks before his family to setup their new life in Colorado Springs. The Halabi family is moving from New York for their three-year-old child, Mia, who has severe epilepsy. They hope the cannabis oil treatment here will stop the 10-15 seizures she has every day.
Mia Halabi rests while squeezed between two couch cushions at her new Colorado Springs home Saturday, October 12, 2013. While she cannot move much besides her arms and her legs, after being taken off of one of her many seizure medications, she has started to be able to support her head.
Mohamad Halabi prepares to feed his daughter, Mia, through her gastric feeding tube after arriving at their home for the first time Saturday, October 12, 2013. The combination of drugs Mia uses to repress her seizures causes her to not have much of an appetite, so she uses the feeding tube to get her nutrients instead.
Mia Halabi rests on a bean bag chair in the living room while being fed through her gastric feeding tube Saturday, October 12, 2013.
Mazan Halabi, 6, left, watches as his mother prepares to give Mia her medication and put her to bed for the family's first night in their Colorado Springs home Saturday, October 12, 2013.
Mazan Halabi, left, hides in a corner as his mother and grandmother put his younger sister, Mia, to bed for the first night in their new Colorado Springs home Saturday, October 12, 2013.
Mia Halabi rests at Children's Hospital Colorado at Memorial Hospital after being admitted for vomiting and kidney stones Thursday, October 17, 2013. Mia's kidney stones are a direct result of her special diet that is designed to stop her seizures.
Madeline Lightle, 9, who has severe epilepsy sits on the floor of her new living room in Colorado Springs Tuesday, October 15, 2013. Madeline's parents decided to move the family to Colorado from Virginia two weeks ago after hearing about Charlotte's Web and realizing the next best option was to remove half of her brain in an attempt to stop her seizures.
Madeline Lightle, left, and her mother Dara Lightle try to catch snowflakes on their tongues Tuesday, October 15, 2013. The family moved from Virginia to Colorado Springs two weeks ago and coincidentally ended up renting the house next to the Halabi family.
From left, Paula Lyles, Jordan Lyles, 18, Madeline Lightle, 9, and Dara Lightle hold hands in prayer as they say Grace at The Olive Garden Tuesday, October 15, 2013. Both girls have seizure disorders that prompted their families to move to Colorado Springs in the last few weeks to receive oil from the cannabis strain Charlotte's Web in hopes that it will stop their children's spasms. While families leave their home states behind, they are finding a new community in Colorado Springs full of families dealing with similar disorders.
Jordan Lyles, 18, who has dravet syndrome and moved to Colorado from Ohio, blows a letter into the mail slot as she, her mother and the Lightle family wait to mail in her medical marijuana card application Tuesday, October 15, 2013. After she gets her card, Jordan will be able to start receiving cannabis oil to help repress her seizures.
Sydni Yunek, 9, who has epilepsy, plays on the floor of her Colorado Springs apartment Tuesday, October 15, 2013. Sydni's mother, Holli Brown, started a private Facebook group that has brought together dozens of families moving to Colorado in search of cannabis oil to treat their children's seizures.
June was a month of fire. The Black Forest fire, which blew up just North of Colorado Springs on June 11, consumed 22.31 square miles, killed two people and burned 486 homes to the ground, making it the most destructive fire in Colorado history. I always thought covering such a massive natural disaster would be a heart-pounding, adrenaline-filled experience, racing along fire lines while shooting scenes of destruction. It was not. The whole thing was much more controlled, barricaded and frustrating than any assignment I had covered before. So I spent five days driving in circles around the 22.31 square miles. Three times I found a road in, and three times I got escorted out by police. A few families let me pretend to be part of their family as they went in to view their homes for the first time, and then the fire was contained and opened to the public. Leaving behind an apocalyptic landscape of black trees and stone foundations. These are some of the photos from the fire, along with a few other photos from June.