Double the Love and Twice the Challenge

Stewart Family Portrait-1

When Diane Stewart contacted me and inquired about my project and possible collaboration I was immediately captivated with her family’s story. Diane and her husband, Pat, have two sons. Aaron is 21-years-old and aging out of high school in May, and Ryan is 18. Both boys have cerebral palsy, use wheelchairs, need maximum assistance with all personal care with the exception of feeding and are on the short term waiting list for a Medicaid waiver. The first time I photographed at the Stewart home my goal was to document their evening routine knowing that this would provide the opportunity to capture compelling shots of the challenges Diane faces in caring for her sons. I photographed Diane single-handedly getting these strapping young men, who are twice her size, fed, toileted, bathed and dressed for bed. To say that I was amazed at her abundance of energy, patience, physical stamina and playful demeanor is an understatement. This past weekend I returned to capture the morning routine and to create a family portrait. After many attempts to get all four of the Stewart’s to look up with flattering expressions, Aaron and Ryan tired of this tedious undertaking and started to joke around. Not knowing whether I had captured a good family portrait, Diane and I  viewed the images on the LCD screen on my camera. When we got to the family portrait I posted above we simultaneously blurted out, “That’s it!.” This image embodies the spirit of the Stewart family. Although the Stewart family story is one of unimaginable demands it is also a story about love, joy and the ability to make the best out of a very challenging situation.

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13 comments

  1. I love this family and what this project is all about! I have known the Stewart’s for 10 years and they never cease to amaze me!! Diane and Pat love their boys and have created one of the most loving, caring and happy family units I have ever seen! Ryan and Aaron are hilarious, witty and hard working. They face challenges each day that none of us could imagine. Keep up the hard work and love Stewart family! I see only good things for all of your future!!! Much Love!!

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  2. Diane and Pat are wonderful parents and these Boys are so loved! I hope bringing awareness to this family will help them get some help in there daily living! God bless this family!!

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  3. I have had the honor to know the Stewart’s for many years and I met them when they lived here in Maryland. Aaron and Ryan have the most infectious laughs and will rope you in with those eyes and smiles to do whatever they want you to do. Diana and Pat are two of the most selfless people I have ever known. Though they are busy with their boys they always take their time out to lend a helping hand or an ear to listen etc. I miss you guys and this is a great articleď

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  4. 3 years ago I was a high school senior and student aide for the freshman P.E class that Ryan was in! Aside from rarely having to grade students’ written assignments, I didn’t have any real aide responsibilities. Instead, I would spend that hour playing with Ryan almost every day. We would play catch and take plenty of laps around the building, but his favorite activity was to just sit by the entrance and watch the afternoon busses arrive. Upon seeing a bus, he would turn to me and exclaim, “Bus! Yellow!” Back then, my days were definitely in need of some brightness; it was like he knew this, and never failed to deliver. I’ll always remember his infectious laugh and joviality, and I’m grateful I got the chance to know him. It’s very refreshing to see that you all are doing well! 🙂

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  5. We only know Diane and Pat Stewart and their special sons because our daughter Christine Brewer had them in her classes. So we know them in a “round about way.” So we have grown to know them, care for them and pray for them through our Christine. We are amazed at the selfless dedication Diane displays in the care of her sons. No one can know the challenges that Diane and Pat face daily. We have not walked in their shoes but we understand and know that we can be a part of their family by caring and praying. It is just a little thing to do, that we hope brings them encouragement as they press on in life. You all are a joy to us. Be strong and courageous…God is with you. Love, Maggie and Jim Brewer

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  6. It truly is hard to find the words that describe the Stewart family. Beautiful, courageous, fun, selfless??? the list of words can go on and on. Diane and Pat live everyday empowered by their unconditional love for each other and their exceptionally endearing sons. To hear about the Stewarts is one thing…to see it “in action” is another. Raising these two amazing boys is challenging at best yet Diane and Pat face each day with an energy that defines the power of love. I, for one, have been captivated by their example of what family means and the amazing environment they have created for their sons. I pray for Aaron and Ryan’s future as they now head into adulthood. You deserve all that is good!! love you all! Ms “A”

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  7. Hi Diane, It’s been a while! You and your family are an inspiration! You make me smile. I hope you are doing well and that the boys are enjoying Atlanta. Although with all this snow and ice, I think you made a good move, you are all missed up north.

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  8. My sweet friends & family, The words you all have used to decribe our family moves me beyon words. The joy that the Stewart boys have given to others makes me so proud.
    You all know how hard it is for me to ask for help and frankly I stink at it. You can imagine how hard this has been for me. I have always kept a low profile regarding our lives and have always tried to keep how difficult it has been taking care of the boys by ourselves. For my dear friends who would not take “no” for an answer I will forever be greatful for your support and love. Which is what made leaving Md so difficult. But it is time to use our family to bring awareness to people with (DD). I’m hopeful we can make a difference.
    I am so greatful to Beate for her work and for her advocating for us. Please continue to share her blog and spread the word. Sending love. 💛❤️

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  9. Thank you all for your beautiful and heartfelt comments. I knew this was an extraordinary family when I first met them. I’ve enjoyed reading all your comments and getting to know the Stewart family through your eyes too. What an honor!

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