Supporting Curing Kids Cancer

You may have noticed that most of the road art paintings I have created were put up for auction at Mecum with all proceeds donated to Curing Kids Cancer.  You might wonder why I choose CKC as my charity of choice.  The answer to that is like many other things in life, it comes down to experiences and connections.

In this case, the experience comes from having a child that was diagnosed with cancer at 8 years old.  During his treatment of 3-1/2 years worth of chemo, we were fortunate to meet the founders of Curing Kids Cancer, Clay and Grainne Owen.  While we were fortunate that our son was able to complete his treatment and survive his cancer, their son Killian was not so fortunate.  Nearing the end of his treatment for the same Leukemia that our son had, he relapsed.  Killian underwent a bone marrow transplant, but relapsed after that as well.  They lost their son with experimental treatments that could have saved him but were stuck in the lab.  That's what drove Grainne to start this charity so that no family would have to endure what they had to.

Over the years, we have grown close to this family, as well as the charity and are happy to do what we can to support this cause.  The paintings have been one way that we have been able to help out.  I typically spend around 8-12 hours on each of the road art paintings, then frame and ship them to be auctioned.

Jeff, Mikaela, Reece, and Grainne in the Curing Kids Cancer booth at the Mecum Auction in Kissimmee.
I have been fortunate to be able to attend a few dates where my paintings were auctioned. The most recent was for the display and auction of the Kendal Motor Oil "Kendall Custom" Mustang. I created a painting of the car and was able to finish the painting live at the auction in Kissimmee. This gave me a chance to meet the crew that had been displaying the car across the country for the last year as well as talk to some of the Mecum customers that came through to see the car and my painting. The car sold later that week raising over $400,000 for Curing Kids Cancer!
Jeff McPhail finishing painting of the Kendall Custom Mustang at Mecum Auction in Kissimmee

A new competition benefiting Curing Kids Cancer

Curing Kids Cancer was recently approached to do a new fundraiser. For this project, Kirsh Helmets donated raw helmets for a variety of artists to paint / decorate. These helmets will then be sent back to Kirsh to be completed as a DOT approved helmet and then sent to various Mecum Auction events to be auctioned off with proceeds going to CKC. It's just another way to raise both funds and awareness for a terribly underfunded sector of cancer.

I was thrilled to be asked to participate in this event, but I must admit, I was a bit intimidated as well. Many of the other artists are quite well known and highly regarded. With that being said, I had to come up with an idea of what to paint and consider that it is on a helmet and not paper or canvas like I am accustomed to.  I have seen many custom painted helmets with some wonderful designs as wells as using some techniques that I have not done.  My design turns out to be pretty simple, but I hope you will like it.

The inspiration for my Curing Kids Cancer helmet design

Kirsh helmet blank with primer coat
All the artists start with the same blank Kirsh Helmet. My first order of business was to get a good, smooth coat of primer on it so that I could then start with a good base coat.
Kirsh helmet with initial mountain design
Unfortunately, I forgot to get a picture of just the base coat of paint. This image is after I created an effect that looks like the Smokey Mountains.

My idea of painting mountains came from a few thoughts I had.  First and foremost, I grew up in East Tennessee and a trip to either Gatlinburg in the Smokies or a trip into the Cherokee National Forest was always a treat.  I have admired the beauty of these mountains for many years.  I was also thinking about how many cyclists flock to the mountains for the same beauty as well as the curvy roads.  One of those roads is the famed Tail of the Dragon that thrills drivers with 318 curves in only 11 miles. The other thought I have when thinking of the Smokey Mountains is that of peace. I believe that Peace is something we all need in our lives, but it's especially true for anyone dealing with cancer. Our son's treatment took 3-1/2 years to complete.  That's 3-1/2 years of chemo, sedations, spinal taps, and hospital stays.  It's a very chaotic time especially when it interrupts what should be a fun time during a child's life.  Because of that I choose to create this peaceful mountain scape as the backdrop for the helmet.

The next item I decided to add to the helmet is an eagle.  I talked to my son about having just wings flowing back from the front of the helmet, but that was just missing something, so I decided to go with an eagle flying above the mountain scape.  For inspiration I used a photo that a good friend of the family had taken.  In fact, Al Armstrong has taken many photos of eagles from gracefully flying, to grabbing fish out of the river and perched on a branch.  One of his photos had just the look I was going for.  When I think of eagles, I see a majestic bird, wild and free and able to soar.  I also think of them as a fierce warrior able to conquer just about anything.  After watching my son fight his tremendous battle with cancer at such a young age, I know that all kids who have to battle cancer are just like the eagle, a fierce warrior.  While some are able to defeat the beast, those who don't fly high and soar into heaven watching over and waiting on those left behind.

Kirsh helmet with initial mountain design and eagle
Kirsh helmet with initial mountain design and eagle 3/4 front view
In these images, there is still some detail work to be done on the eagle.
Art for a cure painted Kirsch Helmet with mountains and eagle
Art for a cure painted Kirsch Helmet with mountains and eagle and gold ribbon for childhood cancer
Art for a cure painted Kirsch Helmet with gold ribbon for childhood cancer
The finished helmet has the mountains, eagle and of course the support ribbon for childhood cancer which is gold.

I also want to give another shout out to all those involved in making this project happen.

Mario Crim is who brought the idea to life to get this project started.

Kirsh helmets who has done fundraisers in the past to support veterans and first responders.  Thanks for donating the helmets to support a cause so near and dear to my family!

Motorcycle Knuckle Busters Podcast will be helping get the word out about the project to raise more awareness.

Motorcycle Safety Lawyers jumped at the opportunity to be involved.  They are providing the Prize for the peoples choice vote on the most liked helmet.

And last, but certainly not least, thanks to Mecum Auctions for all they do for Curing Kids Cancer!  Mecum and their customers have been a fantastic supporters of CKC!