Spotlight Stories

Drawing For Dialysis

I’ve known Kevin Thorn for more than 10 years. I am not alone in finding him to be one of the most helpful, generous people I’ve ever met. When it comes to his time, Kevin is always willing to help, teach, share, or lend a hand to make sure the job gets done; someone gets the help they need; or a charity project gets funded.

For the last five years, Kevin has been giving his time to a local children’s hospital. What started as an invitation to play Pictionary via closed-circuit television (CCTV) so sick children could watch from their beds has turned into so much more. That event led to interactive sessions called DoodleMania, where children could come to a room and join in continuous, interactive doodling. Another event involved a superhero day with multiple artists creating caricatures and other drawings with and for the children.

Kevin learned that although the hospital had a robust volunteer program with many opportunities to help, it did not have an official arts program. One of the child life supervisors suggested drawing with children during their dialysis treatments when they are tied to a machine with no access to CCTV. Kevin worked with volunteer coordinators to establish an official program for artists to teach and draw with the children.

Today when he visits the hospital, he brings a backpack full of crayons, markers, colored pencils, and paper, along with his iPad Pro. While one girl paints on the iPad, other children are drawing patterns, coloring mosaics, or learning about symmetry drawing. Another child is fascinated with lettering. Kevin enjoys sitting with them bedside and keeping their minds off the medical task at hand.

“All these kids are on transplant lists. I have a little bit of heartache when they move on, but I know it’s good that they moved on because they probably got a transplant,” he says. Kevin recently learned about the Draw for Help organization, which will ship a box directly to a hospital so supplies are on hand when the artists show up.

Kevin’s advice for all of us is simple: Don’t think about it. Just go do it.

“In any city that has a children’s hospital, you have no idea what these kids and their families are going through,” Kevin says. “But they love having something to do while they’re there to take their mind off the reason they are there. It also relieves the parent(s) for a bit of time, and gives them a break, as well,” he adds.

Kevin loves creating, drawing, and teaching. He is an inspiration to those around him—especially to the kids who get to draw and design, and whose eyes light up when they learn something new.

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