The Archibald Project
Whitney and Nick Runyon are best friends, husband and wife, and co-founders of The Archibald Project, an orphan care advocacy project. Their story began cliff jumping off a 40 foot cliff in the hill country of Texas. After Nick accomplished his dream of becoming an airline pilot and Whitney graduated with a Theatre degree from The University of Texas, Nick began flying out to California to pursue Whitney's heart any time she would let him. After Whitney's many rejections, Nick finally won her heart on a hill in San Francisco. Nine months later the two were married.
Orphan care and starting a nonprofit weren’t initially on the couples’ radar. It was a serendipitous event that led them to their calling. Whitney was shooting family portraits for an old friend when she discovered that the friend was in the process of adopting a child from Bulgaria. Whitney knew she needed to be there for the adoption. She and Nick flew to Bulgaria on what would be a life-altering trip. After posting the photos online, a total stranger contacted them with a message that changed everything: “Because of your photos, my husband and I are adopting a chronically ill child from Ukraine.”
The couple knew right then and there that photos, their photos, have the power to help orphaned and vulnerable children. That message, in tandem with their own infertility struggles, was a pivotal moment that left Whitney and Nick inspired. They spent the next 2.5 years documenting adoptions hoping to inspire more people to adopt, and after a few years of marriage, they left the conventional American life they knew to pursue their calling full time.
The further they got into the orphan care world, the more they realized that adoption is one way of caring for children, but not the only way. Whitney and Nick wanted to focus on all the different aspects of orphan care, in hopes that everyone could find a way to love and serve vulnerable children. In 2014, the Runyons took their orphan care non-profit full time with the founding of The Archibald Project.
The Archibald Project uses photography, videography, and blogging to tell stories that advocate for orphans, educate their audience on orphan care, build community, and inspire people into action. Because of the Archibald Project, fewer children are labeled “orphan.” They use media to show different sides of orphan care, including volunteering with an orphanage, sponsorships, reintegration, working with birth families to help gain their children back, and sharing unique and beautiful adoption stories.
It took more than five years, a six month move to Uganda, lots of mistakes, many airport delays, and occasionally tears and heartache, but The Archibald Project has inspired readers to train to become foster parents. Some readers have sponsored children in other countries to receive an education, some have organized fundraising events to support a friend’s adoption, some have donated to help an orphan receive surgery, among others. The Archibald Project is the source of amazing stories of individuals being inspired to action.
It certainly hasn’t been easy, but Whitney and Nick wake up every day saying, "send me," because they wholeheartedly believe in doing their part to eliminate the orphan crisis.