T-Shirts by Donna to Help Kids With Cancer

DRUM ROLL, PLEASE!  I am thrilled to introduce the newest campaign by my friends at Paper Clouds Apparel — art work featured by Donna.  50% of the proceeds for all shirts and accessories sold between now and June 29, 2014 will be donated to the Donna’s Good Things Campaign with the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which, to date, has raised $241,438 for childhood cancer research.

That’s a legacy this mama is very proud of.

Robert of Paper Cloud Apparel approached me a few months ago.  I was thrilled with the idea of folks across the country wearing art made by Donna.  I was thrilled to find another way to support the important work of St. Baldrick’s.  I was thrilled that Paper Clouds both employs people with special needs and that the rest of the proceeds from the Donna campaign sales will benefit the continued support of folks with special needs.  It was a win-win proposition.

When Donna spent time in the hospital, which was a lot of time, especially in 2007 and in 2008 after her third relapse, one of her favorite things was to have Willow, the art therapist, come by for a visit.  Willow brought along paints and papers that gave Donna blessed distraction and the opportunity to create.  The nurses noticed Donna’s love of art and gifted her with an incredible easel during the Christmas in 2007 she spent hospitalized.

There were many a morning and afternoon spent in front of that easel.

One of the ways that Donna’s brain tumor seemed to impact her was spatially.  She tended to put color on top of color and restrict herself to a corner of a huge sheet of paper.  We worked with her to train her eyes to expand and to cover more of the area of the paper.  Ha!  That was when she morphed into stripes.  She loved making splashes of rainbows.  Eventually, after hearing us time and time again, “Don’t forget the top of the paper!”, she made a few huge rainbow type flags like you see here that she was so very proud of herself.


This truck was painted during a trip to the day hospital for chemo in October 2008.  Donna had relapsed again after her July 2008 relapse.  We didn’t know it at the time, but this was the beginning of the end.  The chemo regimen was outpatient and much easier for Donna to tolerate.  It would be an eight hour day and BAM we would be home again.  Trust me that after Donna’s previous protocol of five inpatient days of chemo, it felt like a walk through the tulips.  I remember this truck so very well.  Willow brought us the tools and Donna, out of the blue, painted a truck that day.  It amazed me, as big trucks were always something she feared on Chicago streets.  This one still hangs in our home gallery.


Happy Frog was painted at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Massachusetts during a visit with the grandparents in 2008.  Donna had recovered from her stem cell transplant and it was our first opportunity to travel in eighteen months.  I worried about plane germs with such an immature immune system, but Donna was a champ and we had a beautiful trip.  The museum has this amazing art room where kids are encouraged to create on their own.  We spent a few hours with Donna’s grandmother there in our visit and Donna used sponges and paint to make this frog.  I think it was me or her grandmother who added the smile and eyes, at Donna’s request.



The last work by Donna is her family portrait made during her five weeks of pre-school.  Sometimes I forget how little Donna actually was when she died.  Just four years and three months old.  So much of her art reflects that, when in my head, I have morphed Donna into this ageless, timeless font of wonder and wisdom.  I see her family portrait, and like a punch to the gut, I remember that, yes, while she was full of wonder and wisdom, Donna was still a four year old in every way.  It hurts, honestly, to think of her young vulnerability.  Seeing this family portrait made for her class brings joy, though.  This is how Donna saw us, and that, to me, is precious.

That's Me and Mary Tyler Dad, bigger than life, and Donna and her first little brother are the tiny folks to our left.
That’s Me and Mary Tyler Dad, bigger than life, and Donna and her first little brother are the tiny folks to our left.

As the mother of a daughter who died far too young, there are too few opportunities I get to parent Donna anymore.  This Paper Clouds campaign gives me that opportunity in a BIG WAY.  By spreading the word of this campaign, by working to encourage folks to wear Donna’s art, I get to be both that proud Mama of my girl, but I also get to help advocate for too many other children with cancer who desperately need a louder voice to get them the research their lives depend on, the research that St. Baldrick’s can provide.

Please consider using Paper Cloud Apparel’s new Shirt Builder tool to create designs for you and your family featuring Donna’s art.  There are sizes for men, women, children and babies.  There’s hats and totes, too!  Let’s litter the world with Donna’s art and her hope and her wonder and her joy!  Wear these shirts and tell Donna’s story loud and proud.  “Once there was a little girl named Donna and she was amazing . . .”

Click here to build your own Donna original design.  

Here is Donna painting a mural at her school that now proudly hangs in our home.  Art transforms in so many ways.
Here is Donna painting a mural at her school that now proudly hangs in our home. Art transforms in so many ways.

As Donna’s Mama, I thank you greatly.  


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