NEW YORK (KXAN) — What started off as a simple shoot turned into a passion project for Alex Palombo. The New York City-based photographer got the opportunity to photograph an Olympic hopeful in December 2019 the week before Christmas.

“Shu Shu, he’s such a cool guy,” Palombo said about boxer Bruce Carrington.

He photographed the boxer just a couple of months before the COVID-19 pandemic would change the world and cause the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games to be postponed.

“COVID-19 hit, then everything came to a crashing halt,” Palombo said.

That would mark the beginning of Palombo’s social media campaign and would quickly turn into a passion project: The 20 2020 Project.

It’s a book highlighting 20 Olympic hopefuls from sports, ranging from skateboarding and wrestling to fencing and table tennis.

“A lot of people need to be recognized, and, for me, recognizing the quote-unquote underdog athletes, the ones that don’t get recognized, for me is a little bit more personal,” he said.

For the photographer behind the lens, this is his way of bringing a picture’s words to life.

“Everybody has a dream, and you can pursue it,” Palombo said. “I just want to say you can do it; you can do it.”

The book showcases a series of portrait and action shots of the 20 Olympic hopefuls — some who qualified and are competing this month — from as far north as Canada to the wetlands of south Florida.