Difference Makers: Foundation Offers Virtual Support for Pediatric Cancer Families

An organization in Burlingame is offering virtual support to kids with cancer through the power of art.

Purvi Shah founded the Kids and Art Foundation over a decade ago after learning her three-year-old son Amaey had cancer. As a mom, she felt flustered by not having any control of the situation. Even though she couldn’t physically take the pain away, she knew she had to do something to raise money for the cause.

"We decided to bring artists we know together and pair them up with all these kids to create art," Shah said.

To help pass the time in the hospital, she and her son took up drawing as a hobby.

"Art was something he could control and create because there was no real control around him," Shah said.

Eventually she realized their artwork was therapeutic.

It helped ease their minds from stress.

"Whether it’s doodling or copying something even for a few minutes. If you can center yourself and forget where you came from or where you are going, that’s the power of art," she said.

Amaey died of leukemia at the age of nine. His friends called him "Amazing Amaey" for all of the amazing artwork he created over the years. Shah said their goal is to provide a source of comfort to families facing pediatric cancer. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, they’ve transitioned to virtual art lessons for kids in the hospital.

"No human contact is available, so we will be there for our patient families wherever they are, whenever they need us," she said. "When hospitals closed down, we said we are going to try to move all our workshops on Zoom."

Even during a pandemic, they’re still touching the lives of so many by creating a sense of peace and healing.

"Suddenly you see your child being happy and giggling over a piece of art. I think that’s powerful," Shah said.

If you know someone who is working to keep us safe during the coronavirus pandemic and would like to nominate them as a KCBS Radio Difference Maker, email us at differencemakers@kcbsradio.com.