School of the Arts

Twins, triplets and art -- oh my!

by Naomi Keeler

The Ransom family artists at workThe Ransom family artists at work

Several ambassador families from the northern division of the March of Dimes and IU South Bend faculty and students joined together on October 13, 2011 to create artwork for the annual March of Dimes Signature Chefs Auction. In less than two hours, the group produced 67 drawings and paintings.

Thirty five children, parents, and college students created the artwork, which will be included in a silent auction at the March of Dimes Signature Chef’s Auction on November 3rd. The artists, ranging in age from 18 months to adults, worked with brushes, marbles, and chalk at a series of art stations, each featuring a different project. The children enjoyed printmaking, finger-painting, marble painting, scratch art, and texture rubbings with help from students from the IU South Bend Art Department. The atmosphere was fun, friendly and messy as the many sets of twins and triplets happily created their masterpieces.

March of Dimes board member Jennifer Brown and staff member Tonya Rush wanted to incorporate something new in the auction this year by getting kids involved who have benefited from the March of Dimes. Brown contacted Michelle Morgan-Dufour, Director of Outreach Services for the Ernestine M. Raclin School of the Arts, who asked students Katie McAllister and Tabetha Coburn-McDonald for help to load the project. “We are so thankful that Michele and the art department were willing to partner up with us.” says Brown. “The few hours that we’re here together will help us tremendously in the silent auction and raise money to go back toward March of Dimes. We are all about raising money for healthier, stronger babies so we really thank everyone involved. ”, said Denise Patterson, Director for March of Dimes.

Watching everyone socialize, one would have thought these families have known one another for years.  Most of them were strangers united by a common factor- the March of Dimes. All families in attendance had experienced premature births or had difficulties as infants. The families all believed the March of Dimes was important to their children’s survival. The March of Dimes not only provides information but also “helped us to be hopeful”, said mother of twins Rachel Ransom, “Prematurity used to be more of a stigma…something you did wrong as a parent. The March of Dimes has helped to get rid of that stigma.”

 “I think that prematurity and birth defects can be very isolating because often times, people do have these wonderful stories of wonderful, easy pregnancies and happy, healthy children. And when that isn’t your story, it can be very isolating,” says Tonya Rush, whose daughter spent time in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). Parents are able to meet and form life- long friendships with other parents in the NICU and continue to be pillars of strength for new families by staying involved with support groups at the hospital and the March of Dimes. “We’re meeting each other in the hospital and in the NIC-U, with people who understand your story and have been through or understand that maybe you can’t do certain things that other people can do or have different limitations.” Rush has a long history with the March of Dimes, starting out as a walker in the March for Babies, and then advancing as a volunteer, board member and now a staff member.

The Chefs Auction is scheduled for Thursday, November 3rd from 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the Century Center in South Bend. The night’s events include a live auction, silent auction, and chefs from area restaurants serving their favorite dishes. The live auction includes packages from restaurants such as a forty person tailgate or an eight person in home dinner party. All the funds raised go toward fulfilling the March of Dimes mission, helping moms have full-term pregnancies and research the problems that threaten the health of babies.