Portland sports photographer Craig Mitchelldyer feels karma come back his way through social media
You've probably seen Craig Mitchelldyer at Providence Park before. Roaming the sidelines, his 6'4 frame carrying two or three cameras around his neck as he takes dynamic shot after shot of the Rose City's own Portland Timbers and Thorns FC teams. He was on the sidelines in the USL era and also snapped shots of the Portland Beavers baseball games.
But outside the confines of Providence Park, Mitchelldyer and his family have also given back to the community around them. Two weeks ago, they were repaid for their kindness.
Craig and his wife, Jennifer, are not just the proud parents of two young children of their own. Jennifer recently became a surrogate for a couple, and is expecting twins in December. In an unlikely twist, the Mitchelldyer family came to help donate life to others through Craig's job as a photographer.
"USA Today sent me out on a story about surrogates," said Mitchelldyer. "When I came back from the story, I told Jenn to go and check it out."
Because there is a shortage of surrogates, the organization Jennifer worked with was more than happy to have her apply. After going through the process, the Mitchelldyers met with and coordinated to host twins for a gay couple.
Going through a pregnancy all for the sake of providing for another set of partners, especially those they'd barely met, was something the Mitchelldyers were more than happy to do.
"People have all kinds of misconceptions about surrogacy," said Craig. "You don't feel that attachment to the baby. You're just happy for the people you're having it for."
The universe may have paid back that kind of karma to the Mitchelldyers on May 8. During a lunch at the Meriweather's restaurant in Northwest Portland, Craig's mother's husband, Bruce, went into cardiac arrest. A woman at a neighboring table leapt into action, and began performing CPR.
She did what she could until paramedics arrived, who were able to revive Bruce after using the defibrillator on him. Medical professionals told the family that the young woman had saved his life, but in the rush to the hospital they had forgotten to get her full name. All they knew was that her name was Lauren.
That's when Mitchelldyer took to Facebook.
"It was actually between the first and second quarter of Game 4 during the Spurs-Blazers series," said Mitchelldyer. "I put it on Facebook and Twitter trying to find her."
Mitchelldyer recruited the help of some of the local media through social media, including KATU’s Anna Canzano, and by halftime his post had over 400 shares on Facebook. Relying on Portland's close-knit community on social media was the right move, and by the middle of the third quarter Craig had a lead.
Portland Twitter people, please help my family find "Lauren". She saved my step-fathers life: https://t.co/FWV6Kg5fDZ please RT.
— Craig Mitchelldyer (@craigmdyer) May 13, 2014
A person had contacted him saying they overheard the same story at work that day and knew who the person in question was: 29-year-old Lauren Hammond.
In less than two hours after his initial posting, Mitchelldyer had Hammond's e-mail and had contacted her asking to confirm that indeed she had helped to save Bruce's life. In real time, Mitchelldyer updated his Facebook to reflect his success.
It took Hammond until the next day to respond to Craig, where she was surprised that he had been able to reach her – Mitchelldyer said she doesn't even have a Facebook account.
After Mitchelldyer and Hammond were able to connect, she was invited to the hospital to meet Bruce, who wanted to thank her for saving his life. The pair met again – under different circumstances – a few days after Bruce left the hospital. Craig and his mother had a hard time finding the words to express toward Hammond.
"We went to Hallmark and asked 'Do you have any "You saved my life" cards?'" laughed Craig. "We found one that said 'You were there when I needed you' on the front and the inside said 'You were also helping me instead of pointing and laughing at me.'"
It's a good thing Hammond was at Meriweather's, too. She'd never been to the famed restaurant and went there on a whim.
"Portland is a small place, where everybody kind of knows everybody," said Mitchelldyer. "Still, it happened between the first and third quarters of a basketball game. That was pretty cool."