A tradition at Phoenix Children’s Hospital that often has featured the work of young patients from the East Valley is marking a milestone filled with holiday spirit and artistic flare.
This year marks the 25th year that young cancer patients at the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Phoenix Children’s Hospital are the artists of the sought-after holiday cards that are sold at Safeway grocery stores throughout the Valley. The Holiday Art Project is the center’s largest fundraiser, and has raised more than $5 million since its inception in 1986, said Catherine Sherwin, corporate development officer for Phoenix Children’s Hospital.
This year’s cards, which were released earlier this month, feature the work of five artists including one of a decorated Christmas tree with scooters and a skateboard in front of it rendered by Jordyn De La Torre, 8, of Queen Creek. The Circle Cross School third-grader’s work is titled “Merry Christmas” and was selected out of five pieces she submitted.
Jordyn’s and the other artists’ holiday cards can be purchased in packs of 15 online for $10 at www.pchkidsart.com, and at all Valley Safeway stores.
Her family plans to send the cards out to family and friends this year.
Of her cards being available in stores, Jordyn said: “I think it’ll be really cool.”
She also gave her cards a personal touch.
“I like to ride scooters and my little brother (Jason) likes to ride scooters, so when I was drawing my Christmas card, I drew scooters on it,” Jordyn said. “My big brother (Jake) likes to ride bicycles.”
Other artists for this year’s holiday cards are: Evan Gray, 13, of Phoenix, who drew “Beautiful Desert”; Karlie O’Hearn, 14, of El Mirage, who drew “Blue Snowflake”; Jenna Thompson, 11, of Phoenix, who drew “Snowy Cabin”; and Kamee Weeks, 6, of Phoenix, who drew “Tumbleweed Snowman.”
Jordyn was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called Wilms tumor last year, and had a kidney removed last year due to a four-pound tumor. Tumors also were on her lungs and the cancer was in stage 4, but after undergoing radiation and chemotherapy, it now is in remission.
Jordyn was unable to go to school for part of her second grade year, but returned to school full time at the beginning of this school year.
Jordyn enjoys creating artwork and spending time with her brothers and two pet dogs.
The Art Project was created not only to help support the center through the funds they raise, but also involve children in art and craft projects that help them cope with stress. Each year, Phoenix Children’s Hospital holds dozens of art workshops with the help of local artists to show patients different forms of art and how to use their imaginations to help them keep their minds off their illnesses.
“The money raised through the Holiday Art Project dramatically impacts the survival rate for children with cancer,” said Dr. Michael Etzl Jr., division chief of the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders. “Seventy-five percent of all children with cancer here at Phoenix Children’s Hospital are cured of the disease.”
The center is the largest provider of hematology and oncology care in Arizona and offers state-of-the-art pediatric cancer management to almost half of the children diagnosed with malignancies or life-threatening hematologic diseases. Through individual and corporate contributions, the center is able to provide new research options, education, financial assistance and psychosocial support for the patients and their families.
“Because the Holiday Art Project is the largest fundraiser, it is our way to help sustain the level of services we provide,” Sherwin said.
Jordyn’s mother, Jennifer De La Torre, said pencils, markers and paper always spread throughout their house are proof that Jordyn loves to draw.
“She hoped she’d get one of her drawings selected for the holiday cards and was excited when one was chosen,” the proud mother said. “It’s a great project. It gives the kids something to look forward to and get excited about. It’s something that Jordyn is proud of.”
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