Kathy Eldon overcame tragedy by helping others tackle challenges
After losing her journalist son in Somalia, Kathy Eldon started a foundation that's touched the lives of millions.
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Kathy and Mike eventually divorced. Dan, then a teenager, stayed in Kenya with his dad, while Amy and her mother returned to London. Broke and depressed, and after a period of prayer and reflection, Eldon awoke one morning and announced, "I had a dream I should start a company called Creative Visions." She knew she had found her calling: to use media to bring about social change.Skip to next paragraph
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Soon she found herself sitting with Harry Percy, the Duke of Northumberland, in Syon House, "one of the most stately houses in Britain," she explains. Together, her production company and the duke's went on to coproduce "Lost in Africa," a feature film about elephant poaching.
Then, suddenly, life went upside down.
In July 1993, Eldon received a phone call: Her photojournalist son, Dan, had been killed, stoned by a mob in Somalia while on assignment for Reuters. He was 22 years old.
Eldon knew immediately that she wanted to do something in his memory. Within two months, she and Amy helped create a book and traveling exhibition displaying photographs taken by Dan and two others who died with him for Reuters and The Associated Press.
The exhibition, which highlighted the dangers photojournalists face in war, traveled to six countries. Four presidents presided over its openings. Today, nearly 20 years later, the exhibition still travels to libraries, galleries, and schools.
Pat Mitchell, president and CEO of the Paley Center for Media, recalls the first time she worked with Eldon and Amy. They came to her when Ms. Mitchell headed Ted Turner's documentary department. "They had an idea to do a documentary on Amy's struggle with her grief about Dan's death and the dangers all photojournalists face in war zones," Mitchell says.
That documentary, "Dying to Tell the Story," won several awards, and CNN continues to air it annually.
Mitchell and the Eldons worked on five more films. "She's taken the greatest loss, her child, and turned that grief into something positive – but not in a morbid way," Mitchell says. "When I think of Kathy, one word comes to mind: authentic."
Today, Eldon says, she's excited about getting out of bed in the morning. "I'm full of joy because I have so much purpose. We can overcome. We can choose our dance."
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