Fundraiser brings artists together with those touched by cancer
Cancer can touch off a deep mix of emotions -- fear, despair, love, hope.
Art can set off those same feelings just by looking at color, forms, content.
Put the two together and you have an organization that offers an outlet for coming to terms with a diagnosis and a way to put creativity into action.
Twist Out Cancer was started in 2011 by Jenna Benn Shersher after her own experience with Grey Zone Lymphoma. The organization brings together Inspirations, people dealing with cancer in some form or another, and Artists, who help tell Inspirations' stories through their specialized medium.
One of the organization's top fundraisers is its Brushes With Cancer event, which this year will be virtual. It will take place at 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 14, and features 28 Inspirations and 27 Artists.
We spoke to Joshua Taustein, a Twist Out Cancer board member, about this event and the organization.
Q: What is Twist Out Cancer? Give a brief overview of what the organization does and who you serve.
A: Twist Out Cancer is an international, nonprofit, charitable organization that provides psychosocial support to individuals touched by cancer through creative arts programming.
The organization was founded on the principle that when you share, the world opens up.
What started in 2012 as a small art exhibition in Chicago for 20 Inspirations and Artists has now become an international program that has touched more than 31,000 people around the world.
Q: Where do the majority of your donations come from?
A: The majority of our donations are from individual donors and grants.
Q: How many people per year do you serve?
A: We are now servicing approximately 10,000 people a year.
Q: What are some of your programs?
A: Twist Out Cancer offers the platform, tools and community -- both online and offline -- for anyone touched by cancer to feel connected to a community, and for many to take action. This includes our signature event, which is the Brushes With Cancer program and Twistshops.
Twistshops welcome individuals who have been touched by cancer to engage in art therapy-based workshops that focus on utilizing the arts as a mechanism for healing.
Twistshops promote healing, relaxation and emotional recovery through art therapy-based interventions that are designed to reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress related to cancer.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have pivoted to run these programs completely virtually for individuals touched by cancer and the larger public that may be feeling isolated and lonely during this unprecedented time.
Q: Tell us about the Brushes with Cancer program. How does it work?
A: Brushes with Cancer is a unique celebration that pairs accomplished artists with "Inspirations" -- people who are "previvors," survivors, fighters, and caregivers affected by cancer. As the Inspirations share their "twist on cancer" -- stories, feelings, and experiences -- the artists create unique pieces representing their personal journey with cancer.
Q: How can people participate?
A: Everyone is invited to join us for our virtual Brushes With Cancer event in Chicago at 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 14, which features 28 Inspirations and 27 Artists.
These unique art pieces created for Inspirations in Chicago will be showcased at the virtual event, which will include access to a virtual 3-D art exhibition, live entertainment, and a catered meal by Jordan's Food of Distinction, which will be delivered to ticketholders' homes.
In addition to seeing the artwork created for this year's Inspirations and learning the stories behind them, several speakers also will be taking part in the live event, including keynote speaker Ethan Zohn, who is a two-time cancer survivor, winner of "Survivor: Africa," and co-founder of Grassroot Soccer.
The 2020 Brushes With Cancer Honoree in Chicago is Danny Glick, who lost his mother and aunt to cancer and has demonstrated a persevering commitment to the philanthropic community in Chicago.
Anthony Ponce, who is a weekday anchor and reporter at FOX32, will be the emcee for the evening. Entertainment will be provided by Grammy Award-winning songwriter, producer and keyboardist Sam Barsh and singer and songwriter Jesse Palter, known collectively as Palter Ego; vocalist Tanqueray Hayward; and from Vocalo Radio Chicago, DJ John Simmons.
Elliott From of Artbeat Live will also be doing a live painting during the program, and the evening's Fitness and Wellness Coach, Gideon Akande of "Get Fit With Giddy," will be providing guests with movement motivation throughout the program.
Specialty cocktail instruction will be provided by expert mixologist Kyle Davidson from the restaurant Giant.
The virtual Brushes with Cancer program was created and designed by Kobi Swissa of Swissa Creative, which is a Chicago-based creative agency and production company.
General admission tickets are available for $75 and Virtual Premier Tickets are $100. They both include access to the full program, virtual gallery, online auction, as well as two raffle tickets for general admission tickets or four raffle tickets for Premier Tickets.
Virtual VIP Tickets are $150 and include access to a private reception with Inspirations, artists, and celebrity guests at 6:30 p.m., as well as four raffle tickets. VIP tickets also include the doorstep delivery of a TwistKit, which includes party appetizers from Jordan's Food of Distinction, a Resilient face mask, and a Twist Out Cancer shopping bag.
After tickets are purchased, patrons will be sent an invitation for the event, which will be done through Zoom.
A range of sponsorships are also available for the Brushes with Cancer program. Tickets and sponsorships can be purchased at one.bidpal.net/brusheswithcancerchicago2020/ticketing.
Q: What else would you like readers to know?
A: The virtual event this year will allow hospitalized cancer patients and health care providers, who were previously unable to attend our in-person programming due to their medical condition, the opportunity to attend.
Cancer patients in the Chicago area who are currently hospitalized can reach out to Amelia Hanrahan at firstname.lastname@example.org for their free tickets.
Anyone who has been touched by cancer can sign up for our e-newsletter at twistoutcancer.org/contact-us. They can become an Inspiration or Artist in future years and sign up for our Twistshops.
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Virtual Brushes With Cancer
Who: Benefits Twist Out Cancer
When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 14
Tickets: General admission tickets are available for $75; Virtual Premier Tickets are $100 and Virtual VIP Tickets are $150; tickets and sponsorships can be purchased at one.bidpal.net/brusheswithcancerchicago2020/ticketing. After tickets are purchased, patrons will be sent an invitation for the event, which will be done through Zoom.