Caring Arts

Caring Arts in the News

Moving Picture: Lake County woman gives with photos    
— Reprinted from Daily Herald, May 25, 2012. Story by George LeClaire, staff reporter

Sharon Weigand of Round Lake Heights doesn't take the pictures. But her love of photography can be seen in every image taken of young cancer patients at Children's Memorial Hospital.

“After my husband Ray's father passed away from cancer, we wanted to find a way to help other families fighting the disease," Sharon said. Ray's cousin, Barbara Weigand of Oak Park, who is a co-founder of Caring Arts Foundation, suggested we could make a difference in the lives of cancer patients and their families by taking studio-style photo portraits at the hospital."

“Once a quarter they take over the oncology lounge for a morning and turn it into a photo studio,” Barbara said. “The kids have a wonderful time choosing costumes to wear, and parents receive a full complement of photos, as if they'd gone for a formal portrait sitting, minus the cost.” Sometimes the children miss their school photos due to their illness.

"The photos are a reminder of how beautiful every child is, regardless of their illness, and is a wonderful gift for the families," said Barbara, vice president of programs for the foundation in Oak Brook.
Sharon and Barbara start the morning laying out more than 50 costumes, hats, stuffed animals and mirrors, while Ray and daughter Jennifer set up photography equipment to create a portrait studio in two small rooms on the oncology floor at the hospital.

“We don't know what age the children will be, so we have a variety of sizes & styles," Sharon said. "We have cowboys, firefighters, many princesses, any kind of sports, really cool black jackets and ties for teenagers.”
Most of the costumes are split down the back to make it easy for the children with IVs in tow. The Weigands also take portraits of siblings, parents and family groups in costumes, too.

“We stand on our heads, shake stuffed animals, anything to get the kids to laugh or smile,” Sharon said. About 30 children are photographed each visit.

“We love to see the expressions on the kids faces, we love to see how excited the parents get,” Sharon said.

See the full slide show produced by The Daily Herald on YouTube HERE.

Setting up
Sharon Weigand jumps in to make a last-minute adjustment to Vincent Rassano's Bulls jersey before Sharon's daughter, Jennifer Weigand, clicks the shutter. Sharon's husband, Ray, adjusts the lights. Rassano, 9, is from Woodridge.
Sharon and Ray adjust 6-year-old Brooke Ames's hair before daughter Jennifer takes a portrait at Children's Memorial Hospital. Brooke's brother Drew, 4, is receiving treatment at the hospital. The Weigands offer to take portraits of siblings and parents of children facing cancer. The Ames family is from Wheaton.
Dressing up
Sharon and Mary Berry of Ford Heights are pleased with Berry's princess crown after having it adjusted for her portrait sitting at Children's Memorial Hospital

Caring Arts Holiday Concert Dec. 23 at Gurnee Mills    
— Reprinted from Lake County News Sun, December 20, 2012

For 12 years, the Caring Arts Foundation has been using the arts to help relieve the stress and pain associated with cancer for Chicagoland area patients of all ages, and their family members. The Foundation’s Caring Arts program trains top-notch professional artists & musicians from the community to work within a hospital environment and then pairs them with local cancer centers, to promote emotional healing and pain relief through creative expression.

Caring Arts has a long association with Lurie Children’s Hospital. On more than one occasion, children with cancer were inspired to pursue the arts themselves, finding it a wonderful outlet. Two such children, 10-year-old Alana Garcevic of Wheeling, and 19-year-old Kyle Michalek of Cary, both cancer survivors, will have the opportunity to show off their musical skills at the Caring Arts Holiday Concert Dec. 23 from noon-3pm at Gurnee Mills, near Entry E, between Bass Pro Shops and Value City Furniture. Both kids were treated at Children’s Hospital where they encountered Caring Arts musician, Bill Syniar, and both now play guitar themselves. Syniar is a guitarist and bass player from Oak Park, who has worked with the Foundation for the past 8 years. He is former bass player for the national rock band, Survivor, and currently is a band leader for the popular local R&B band, R-Gang.

The concert will also feature the talents of cellist Petar Kecenovici, another Caring Arts musician who performs with Bill regularly at University of Chicago Hospitals and Rush University Cancer Center in Chicago. A classically trained musician originally from Romania, Petar has performed with the likes of Andrea Bocelli, Jordin Sparks, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Cheap Trick and many other international acts. He is currently band leader for Classical Blast, a quartet that performs classic rock music on classical instruments. In addition to Petar, Classical Blast consists of Alin Cernaianu on violin; David Kav on guitar & vocals and cancer survivor, Glen Kosche on drums. The full band will join in the concert, along with Bill Syniar on bass, performing classical, standards, classic rock and holiday music.

See video from the concert on our YouTube Channel HERE.

Classical Blast got to perform at the Caring Arts Holiday Concert, featuring Alin Cernaianu on violin, Glen Kosche on drums, David Kav on guitar and vocals, Bill Syniar on bass and Petar Kecenovici on cello
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