A passion for art, helping others
By Caitlin Davis, Senior Staff Writer
Aug 29, 2014, 12:19
JAMES PEACEMAKER JR./HOPEWELL NEWS/NEWS-PATRIOT Brianna Kerr holds a drawing for the flier for the “Day of the Cure” event. It is a child in a hospital gown with a butterfly. Brianna chose a butterfly because it is her mother’s favorite.
HOPEWELL — It began for one 12-year-old girl when her parents asked her what impact she wanted to leave on the community, and it has become an event that is getting all of Hopewell involved.
Brianna Kerr, of Hopewell, decided to give back to the community by donating to help fight children’s cancer and by showcasing one of her passions: artwork.
A pencil was in Brianna’s hand by the time she was 4 years old after watching her mother draw, most specifically a portrait of a young girl and a horse. Brianna felt the spark and since then has held on and continues to develop her talents, currently working with acrylics.
“I decided to do an art auction because I’m good at art,” Brianna said. “And I just decided, ‘hey I could draw up something really good and sell it.”
With the help of her parents, the planning got underway for the auction, “Day of the Cure,” which is being held Nov. 2 at the Beacon Theatre.
For the Kerr family, cancer hit close to home. Her father, David Kerr, battled and fought leukemia.
“I was really angry because I couldn’t do anything about it,” Brianna said, describing her time sitting with him at the hospital. “Not even just because I was a kid. It just sucked because I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t make him better or anything. I just had to sit there and watch.”
After being released from the hospital, he along with Brianna’s mother, Tracey, told her that she needed to do something for the community.
“We want her to be raised up with that foundation of ‘let’s be helpful,’” David said. “I’ve been a public servant for 22 years in the military so she’s got this worldly view too. She’s been all across the U.S.”
It came as a shock to both Brianna’s parents when she approached them about raising money for children’s cancer research, as they both expected her to volunteer for a local organization.
Though her father battled cancer, Brianna’s inspiration for the event came from a childhood friend she never got the chance to really meet or even spend time with.
“I had this friend, who had this childhood friend that I didn’t know very well, I wish I could though,” she said. “But around the same time that my dad had cancer, her childhood friend died from cancer. I kind of felt bad about it because she didn’t get to live the rest of her life and dad survived. That kind of sucks you know?”
While Brianna remains grateful her father survived his battle with cancer, she wanted to raise money for children to possibly have another chance to live their lives.
“Adults have lived their lives and children still need the chance to live theirs,” Brianna said.
With the vision in mind, she began researching financial information on children’s cancer research funds. Brianna eventually chose Children’s Cancer Research Fund, which according to David, gives 74 percent of their proceeds to cancer research.
JAMES PEACEMAKER JR./HOPEWELL NEWS/NEWS-PATRIOT Brianna Kerr sits with her dad, David, in the auditorium of the Beacon Theatre in Hopewell.
The auction will feature pieces from middle school and high school students. David also wants members the surrounding communities to submit pieces, of which they said, “all forms of creativity,” such as photography, sculptures, and of course, paintings and drawings.
Even though the event is not until November, Brianna has already secured support from the community, such as the Hopewell School Board, Dr. John Fahey, superintendent, Strosnider Chevrolet, Evonik, who is going to make a donation to Children’s Cancer Research Fund, Johnson’s Printing, AmeriGas, the company is donating a fish cooker for a raffle on the day of the event, Food Lion, Ban Rafey, with Celebri-Tees, Baymont Inn and Suites, Summit Media and WHAP 1340, both of which are running PSAs, and Papa Johns. During the week of Oct. 4-12, Papa Johns will provide an online code and 50 percent of the proceeds from sales using the code will go directly to CCRF.
“The more support the better,” David said, as he and Brianna are still reaching out for donations for the event. Brianna said her goal is to fill over 600 seats in the Beacon and raise over $10,000 for CCRF.
The family is looking for about 100 pieces for the event, of which there will be a silent auction and an “out-loud” auction. Local artist Avon Miles is commissioning a piece specifically for the event.
In addition to setting goals and planning for the event in November, the family already has visions for next year. David said he hopes to hold the event again next year and become a 501 (c)(3) organization, so as to have a more “direct impact” on the Richmond area and help someone closer to home.
“It is a lot of work,” David said of the event. “But her mom and I couldn’t be prouder.”
“I feel special,” Brianna said of the support she has received for the event. “It feels awesome. It feels good.”
For information on the event or questions on how to make a donation, visit the Kerr family at Day of the Cure on Facebook at www.facebook.com/DayoftheCurehopewell and on twitter @day_of_the_cure, and by email at email@example.com.