MDA Matters Spring 2012

Above, scenes from Abbey Umali's four-year-term as MDA National Goodwill Ambassador. (l-r) 2008: Abbey announced as MDA National Goodwill Ambassador; 2009: Onstage at the MDA Labor Day Telethon in Las Vegas; 2011: With Blake Shelton in Nashville at the 2011 Country Radio Seminar; 2010: With parents and Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson in Washington, D.C.
Article Highlights:
  • MDA Art Collection masterpieces cover land and sea
  • Get ready for campin' and stylin' at new MDA camp store
  • Thanks, Abbey, for the memories
by Quest Staff on April 9, 2012 - 12:00pm

QUEST Vol. 19, No. 2

MDA Art Collection masterpieces cover land and sea

This year, the MDA Art Collection celebrates 20 years of focusing attention on the creative abilities and accomplishments of children and adults with neuromuscular diseases. During that time, MDA has organized and/or sponsored more than 40 children’s art workshops in conjunction with fine arts museums and galleries nationwide.

Two of those workshops were hosted and led by internationally acclaimed artists Wyland and Charles Fazzino, and produced works for the Collection that combined their talents with those of young people with neuromuscular disease.

"Under the Aloha Sea"
"Under the Aloha Sea," created by the marine artist, Wyland, along with 11 children and young adults with neuromuscular disease.

On April 30, 1994, Wyland, the world’s premier marine artist and muralist, teamed up with 11 children and young adults from Hawaii to create "Under the Aloha Sea" in an MDA-sponsored art workshop at the Bishop Museum in Honolulu.

A pioneer in the marine art movement, Wyland is a painter, sculptor, photographer, writer and SCUBA diver who specializes in capturing the raw power and beauty of the undersea universe.

Working under Wyland’s guidance, the young MDA artists completed a 4-by-6-foot acrylic work (right) in about five hours. Each artist created a different sea creature, and signed their names under their contributions; Wyland also signed the work.

 "Summer Camp in the City"
Charles Fazzino, teamed up with 60 youngsters to create "Summer Camp in the City" at an MDA-sponsored summer camp in Center Moriches, N.Y.

On August 19, 1999, one of the most popular and highly collected 3-D pop artists in the world, Charles Fazzino, teamed up with 60 youngsters to create "Summer Camp in the City" at an MDA-sponsored summer camp in Center Moriches, N.Y.

Fazzino is known internationally for his limited-edition, three-dimensional art that combines vibrant colors, quirky cartoon-like characters and extraordinary detail.

Under his guidance, the unique 4-by-6-foot masterpiece was completed in several hours. The campers named their favorite New York City attractions, which Fazzino then created. The campers drew self-portraits and other images for inclusion in the mural and helped color some of the work. The completed mural (above top) depicts a dizzying New York City scene that blends seamlessly into a patch of green trees that represent the edge of camp.

"We’re so grateful to Fazzino, Wyland and the other professional artists who over the years have used their talents to guide the passion of our young artists," said Mike Blishak, MDA senior vice president of community programs. "Sharing the experience is what art is all about."

Get ready for campin' and stylin'

MDA Summer Camp gear

With spring upon us, we know summer’s just around the corner. For many kids with neuromuscular diseases, that means MDA summer camp — also known as "the best week of the year!" — is coming. Nearly 80 accessible camp sessions across the country are supported by MDA, offering a wide variety of activities, which may include horseback riding, fishing, archery, adapted sports, and of course, arts and crafts.

Thanks to year-round MDA fundraising programs, children ages 6 to 17 who are registered with MDA attend camp at no cost to their families. Space is limited, though, and applications are considered on a first-come, first-served basis. So be sure to contact your local MDA office right away and request a summer camp application.

Brand new for this summer, and now open for business, is the online MDA Summer Camp General Store. MDA campers and their families, volunteers and sponsors can buy summer camp merchandise for the 2012 camp season. You’ll find T-shirts, tank tops, hooded sweatshirts, baseball caps, water bottles, drawstring backpacks and much more, all sporting summer camp or MDA logos. And 20 percent of each purchase goes back to support MDA programs.

Thanks, Abbey, for the memories

After four memorable years as MDA’s National Goodwill Ambassador, Abbey Umali has recently passed the torch to Bryson Foster of Concord, N.C.

The lively articulate and always smiling 13-year-old, who also served two years as California goodwill ambassador, has spent almost half her life ably representing MDA at myriad venues across the country.

Just take a look at this small sampling of whistle stops Abbey and her parents, Wendi and Joel (also a couple of troopers!), have made over the last four years:

  • Safeway Foundation Gala in San Francisco;
  • ERA Beyond Excellence Meeting in the Bahamas;
  • Parade Magazine photo session in Los Angeles;
  • National H.O.G. (Harley-Davidson Owners Group) Rally in Oklahoma City;
  • Black & Blue Ball (fundraiser) in Milwaukee; International Association of Fire Fighters Boot Camp in Anaheim;
  • National High School Cheerleading Championships in Orlando;
  • Lowe’s Shamrocks Kickoff Party in Charlotte, N.C.;
  • Country Radio Seminar in Nashville;
  • Jiffy Lube Convention in Chicago
  • … and we haven’t even mentioned her annual trips to Las Vegas for the MDA Labor Day show!

Abbey, we’ve watched you grow up right before our eyes. Many thanks to you and your parents for all your hard work … and for all that smiling!

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