“Photograph a day in the life of someone I admire.” I wrote those words on my list of 35 ways I could celebrate turning 35 this summer. There are many inspiring individuals I admire…but one name kept coming to mind.

I met Carissa in 2009, and at the time she was working in marketing for Crisis Center of Tampa Bay. Instantly, I knew we were kindred spirits; and when I heard that she had quit her marketing position and sold everything she owned to pursue the call on her life to focus on creating an international ministry for children, I was both moved and intrigued.

Hoola for Happiness is an international ministry based in Tampa, with additional bases in Brazil and India, that seeks to spread God’s love and joy to people all over the world through the use of their Five-Color travel hoola hoops. Each color represents a different part of the Gospel story, providing a simple, joyful connection to the freedom we can experience while hooping, to the freedom found in God’s love for us.

Over the years, we continued to stay connected online. Between her travels and our schedules, we were finally able to get together and have lunch, where we chatted about purpose, faith, and passion over some delicious tacos. It was one of those conversations that you never forget; as Carissa shared her story, mission and what Hoola for Happiness meant, I was amazed at her sacrifice, faith and dedication.

Coincidentally, I found her recent TedX talk this summer and was moved to tears. I called her up a few minutes after and scheduled to spend a day documenting her Hoola for Happiness adventures.

The day started with powerful prayer, brainstorming with her partner, Casey, loading up the car with hoops, and visiting over 300 students! The positive energy filled the room and it was such a beautiful experience to see the innocence, eagerness, and community that children offer.

I’m so thankful to have spent a day with Carissa and privileged to have documented such beautiful interactions and meaningful moments! Carissa is on her way to Brazil next, and I can’t wait to hear how Hoola for Happiness continues to change children’s lives all over the world.

If you’d like to help Hoola for Happiness, here are three ways you can make a huge impact:

Pray for the whole world to learn about abundant life and abundant joy in Christ, and that hoops will make their way to the ends of the earth with this message!

Donate a one-time gift to Hoola for Happiness or support their ministry monthly: you can do so online or by sending a gift to their mailing address at 3225 S MacDill Ave Suite #129-343, Tampa, Fl, 33629.

Order Hoola for Life 5-color travel hoops to take around the world to spread JOY and share the Good News of God’s love! Click here for the Hoola for Happiness Brochure.