‘Brighten My World’ exhibit on display through December
The 11th annual Candlelighters of Southwest Florida Brighten My World Art Project exhibit will be on display at the Broadway Palm Theater throughout the month of December during business hours for everyone to enjoy.
Executive Director and Founder of Candlelighters of Southwest Florida Klair Snellbaker said the project began as a joint effort with other Candlelighter groups across the country in an effort to support September Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. She explained that it also is held to raise awareness of the special needs young cancer patients, children with blood disorders and their siblings have.
The exhibit will feature youth artists of Naples, Cape Coral and Fort Myers whose lives have been touched by cancer or a blood-related disease. The artwork provides the audience with an inside perspective on the various kinds of issues children are faced with who have a life threatening illness.
Cape Coral resident Rebecca Meyers said her 4-year-old son, Kaden, participated in the annual Brighten My World Art Project for the second time this year. His drawing, “Say Cheese” is a picture of an X-ray.
“It makes him feel better about it and makes it easier for him to go through,” Meyers said about how the picture helps him.
She explained that having an X-ray done is an everyday occurrence for Kaden now, so it is something he says “cheese” for and receives a sticker.
The family pediatrician found a wilms tumor, which has now been in remission for almost four years, when her son was 9 months old.
Snellbaker said the organization sends out a list of suggestions and an entry form to help the children develop a picture or creative story. She said this year their suggestions included, When I grow up I want to be; Having wheel chair races at the hospital; My favorite time with Candlelighters and Going to the hospital.
Brothers and sisters also are encouraged to take part in the project because they may have mixed feelings about their sick sibling. Snellbaker said their efforts are directed towards providing support to the family in hopes they will survive cancer intact.
“One of the most memorable pictures was from a sibling of one of the cancer children,” she said. “The young man drew a picture of his house with the mailbox at the end of the driveway. The mailbox was overflowing with letters, but they were all addressed to his younger sister.”
The artwork that is displayed varies, due to the many different age groups affected by the illness.
Snellbaker said some of the drawings may be from a child who just scribbles to another child who may draw a picture of themselves in a hospital bed surrounded by IV poles and syringes, or a Darth Vader type of character blasting out cancer.
“Each person has a different view of their battle with cancer and they express this often through art,” she said. “They may fight their battles differently, but they all have the desire to win the war against cancer.”
Broadway Palm Theater General Manager Susan Johnson said they have worked with Candlelighters for more than 10 years to provide families with tickets to various shows, along with providing space for their annual art project.
“It’s very humbling to see some of their art,” she said, adding that some of the works come from “some very worldly souls.”
Johnson said the pictures are very moving and thought provoking and it is hard not to have a tear in your eye while looking at the artwork.
The 15 pieces of artwork are set up in the theater’s Art Cafe, which is off of the lobby. Johnson said it is decorated in a Dr. Seuss theme to provide a sweet, loving, whimsical feeling to draw individuals into the room.
“I think we did our best to provide a good backdrop for their art,” she said, adding that “anyone can pop in and see the art at anytime.”
Over the years, Meyers said Candlelighters has been awesome to her family by providing lots of fun activities for the children who are receiving treatment.
“They are always doing something fun for the kids,” she said. “Candlelighters is a very good organization.”
A special luncheon will be held in January after the exhibit is over for the children who participated in the art project, along with their families. The children will receive a goodie bag and their framed artwork to take home.
For more information visit www.CandlelightersSWFL.org or call (239) 432-2223.
Broadway Palm Theater is at 1380 Colonial Blvd. The hours are from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, 10 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and from 12 p.m. until 7 p.m. on Sunday.