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Game Changer: Mustangs fan uses photography as therapy

At the end of the basketball court at Smoky Mountain High School, you'll find a row of photographers. It is also where you'll find Joe Carnes and Shannon Lomonac. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

It takes a certain skill to capture the moment, the intensity and the atmosphere of the game whenshooting it through a lens.

At the end of the basketball court at Smoky Mountain High School, you'll find the row of sports photographers. It is also where you'll find Joe Carnes and Shannon Lomonac. Together, the duo are on a team of their own, taking pictures at different school sporting events.

Shannon, a physical therapist, started taking pictures just for fun, but it soon transitioned into something more.

"I was taking photos and noticed him at the game one day and wanted to include him. He's such a fun kid to be with, just wanted to do something fun with him," Shannon said of Joe, who has cerebral palsy.

Joe is one Smoky Mountain's biggest fans.

"I love sports a lot," Joe said.

So, Shannon turned Joe's love for the game into therapy for him.

"He has to track with his eyes, sit up and use his muscles. He has to keep his brain on task, and he just gets so much out of it," Shannon said.

Every week, Joe learns about the cameras and continues to build on his abilities.

"We want to find the things he can do and be successful at and just really push those things and give him opportunities," Shannon said.

At first, his camera was hooked up to a computer, where Joe would take the picture with the space bar. That progressed to Joe using a clicker, and, now, he's doing it all on his own.

"At this point, we have been doing it about a year, and he can point and shoot and do just about anything. I just have to set the camera adjustments up for him," Shannon said.

They take several hundred pictures in one night. While capturing different shots, Joe has also captured the hearts of many.

"Joe is such a genuine kid. He really cares about everyone around him, and he shows it through his smile. He loves everyone," Shannon said.

Joe is more popular than the athletes on the court, and that's why he gets the MVP treatment. Before the varsity game, he gets to hold the Mustangs flag, while he is pushed in his wheelchair around the court.

He said, along with taking pictures, that moment is easily his favorite.

Shannon hopes she and Joe can continue to build on his skills, maybe even take a college level photography class together.





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