By GRETCHEN KEISER, Staff Writer | Published October 15, 2015
JOHNS CREEK—Art canvases that lift the spirits were donated to CURE Childhood Cancer for young patients after a Sept. 13 gathering that honored the late Sam Robb and brought attention to the foundation created in his memory for childhood cancer research.
About 60 people came to the event for CURE, a nonprofit focused on battling pediatric cancer, hosted by the Caring Canvases ministry. Holy Redeemer School in Johns Creek and principal Lauren Schell donated use of its cafeteria that Sunday for the cause.
Approximately $1,650 was raised for CURE at the event and 48 canvases painted by those who came were also donated for children undergoing treatment or the places where they are receiving care.
Speaker Kennedy Cobble, 23, a survivor of childhood cancer, was the guest speaker.
Annamarie Robb spoke of the work of the Sam Robb Fund at CURE, which supports a research fellow in pediatric oncology at the Aflac Cancer Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Emory University School of Medicine. It also supports Open Arms, a program through which CURE Childhood Cancer staff and volunteers provide and serve meals to hospitalized children and their families.
Her son, Sam, who was diagnosed with bone cancer when he was 15 and a student athlete at Blessed Trinity High School, Roswell, died at the age of 20 in 2007. His mantra was “Fightin’ till the last breath.”
She was presented with a canvas bearing the motto, painted by Eileen Sirica Cardillo, who founded Caring Canvases. It will hang in the media center of Holy Redeemer School as a tribute to Sam.
Cardillo, a freelance artist for many years, and Beth O’Hara Abbott, creative associate at Caring Canvases, predesigned canvases with three different designs that those who attended could paint and personalize.
“For the participants who might not have an art background, it kind of gave them a place to start,” Cardillo said. “It’s amazing how different they all look, which makes them even more beautiful.”
“They could either donate them to children battling cancer or take their piece home and give it to a family member or friend who might be struggling,” she said. “I was so impressed with their work. There was a lot of laughter and joy and love in people’s hearts. They were created with love, which is kind of our byline.”
Community involvement, which Cardillo sees as vital to the ministry, enlarged the donation to CURE through in-kind donations from Kroger and Holy Redeemer and refreshments provided by the Circle of Sisters from St. Brigid Church next door.
“People seemed to have a great time and they knew they were doing something positive with their day. Those funds were being directed to cancer research.”
Children, adults and grandparents took part, she said.
“Your life becomes triply blessed”
It was the second anniversary of Caring Canvases, the ministry whose mission is to spread positive messages in the community through uplifting art.
They have facilitated 27 events where approximately 600 inspirational canvases have been created. The pieces have been donated to CURE Childhood Cancer and to other places chosen by hosting groups, including Catholic Charities, the Interfaith Outreach Home, St. Brigid Adopt-a-Family program, the Drake House, A Beacon of Hope, a mother and child wing of a Wyoming women’s prison, and the St. Jude Church ministry to the elderly.
They’ve also donated Caring Canvases events to charity auctions, which led to the first Spanish canvases being created and given to Mustard Seed orphanages in the Dominican Republic. Canvases were created for Cristo Rey Atlanta Jesuit High School along with financial donations to start the school’s art program.
“I worked with five children who were cancer survivors. They were so incredible. One little girl had just been released from the hospital. They created these beautiful pieces that were donated to the silent auction at Care Affair. Through those five children’s pieces, they raised over $2,000. The children were just precious,” Cardillo said.
“We have been so blessed to work with a number of organizations in the Atlanta area. There are now pieces all over the world,” she said. “It has really been an incredible opportunity.”
“If you try to go out and bless other people’s lives, your life becomes triply blessed,” she said.
“I love working with the people. I love the messages they come up with. I love seeing what’s in their hearts. It just shows everybody can help in some way. There is no way that is too small. I’ve seen the joy everybody has in doing something for others.”
“When you see a whole room of people who want to help in some way, it is really beautiful.”
For more information on Caring Canvases, please contact Eileen Sirica Cardillo at firstname.lastname@example.org or 770-294-0390.