UPLAND -- There was a time when Eileen Kelly didn't believe her grandson would live to see his second birthday.
Born at 24 weeks and weighing just 1 pound, 13 ounces, Noah Wubbenhorst was suffering from premature complications and was diagnosed with Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome, which affects blood cells and cells of the immune system.
Noah survived multiple surgeries and chemotherapy, but Kelly feared a bone-marrow transplant on July 27 might be the last time she'd see him.
To help preserve his memory she agreed to have family photos taken by Kimberly Saxelby of True Emotions Photography a month before the surgery.
In the spirit of the holiday season, we searched for ordinary people making an impact -- with little or no fanfare -- on communities across the greater Los Angeles area:
"It could have killed him," Kelly said, "and we wanted to have these pictures that we could look back on and remember him as our little sunshine."
Five years ago, Saxelby was contacted by the nonprofit MomentbyMoment.org, which provides free photos to families experiencing a potential life-limiting illness of a child.
"I said I'd give it a try but I also said, `How do I photograph a child that could die?' I'm already an emotional photographer. I'm going to lose it," she said.
In April 2001, Saxelby was in a head-on collision. She was five months pregnant, living in Monrovia, working as a car service adviser and photographing on the weekend.
Saxelby then decided life was too short and started her own photography business. She opened True Emotions Photography on March 10, 2004, in Upland.
Saxelby's daughter, Javyn, is now 10, healthy and happy.
Saxelby remembers the first child she took photos of, a 7-year old boy named Yaish from India who was in America getting treatment for brain cancer. That was April 6, 2010.
"I got images of the mom holding him, intimately, sleeping," she said. I had a couple looking at me but he couldn't smile. He could barely keep his head up. When I got into the car, I lost it. I was crying and crying, and I said how do these families go through this?"
Yaish died a couple of weeks later.
Saxelby said she's photographed dozens and dozens of children and their families since then.
Saxelby also donates her time and camera to Steven's Hope for Children, Loma Linda University Medical Center and the Rancho Cucamonga and Upland animal shelters. For nine years she's been vice president of the nonprofit Helping Out Pets Everyday, or HOPE.
Steven's Hope co-founder Tony Cappelli said Saxelby provides the perfect gift for the families of seriously ill or injured children that his nonprofit serves.
"For several families it's their final remembrance of their kids," he said.
Kelly said she can't say enough about Saxelby.
"I can't speak for other families," she said, "but the love she has for Noah is amazing. She's constantly asking about him, wanting updates and commenting on his Facebook."
Noah, now 20 months old, is recovering from his transplant.
Five weeks ago, Saxelby waited eight hours for a woman to deliver a child doctors said would only live for a couple of minutes because of heart problems.
The parents arranged for Saxelby to take photos of the little boy they named David Junior.The infant was born, at 8 pounds, with his intestines in his chest, one developed lung and a heart defect.
David Junior's mother ended up having a cesarean and wasn't able to see her baby. After much pleading with nurses and doctors, Saxelby was allowed to photograph David Junior in the neonatal intensive care unit.
"They said I had three minutes to get in and out," she said.
Saxelby is proud to say David Junior is recovering in a San Diego hospital.
"I can't tell you how many people say their child is not going to live," she said. "But I've been taking photos of those kids and they're still alive, and all I can tell them is their baby is stronger than they imagine."
Reach Canan via email, call her at 909-987-6397 ext. 425, or find her on Twitter @ChinoValleyNow.