by Allyson Koerner
Categories: Arts/Culture, Causes, People
Tags: , , , , .

Jeffery Owen Hanson isn’t your typical teenage boy. At 17-years-old he has already donated thousands of dollars to charity and isn’t about to stop there.

Hanson, from Overland Park, Kan., is a philanthropic artist who has had his fair share of struggles. In 2005, he became visually impaired due to an optic nerve tumor, associated with a genetic condition called Neurofibromatosis.

In high spirits, Hanson fought his way through radiation and chemotherapy in 2005-2006. He even nicknamed his tumor “Clod.” He spent three years at the Kansas State School for the Blind and worked towards recovery. For his last day of radiation treatment, Hanson showed up in a Tuxedo, proving he wouldn’t let “Clod” win.

In 2006, since Hanson was not able to participate in sports or the usual kid activities, he took up watercolor painting on note cards. With poor vision, Hanson couldn’t create concrete images, but that didn’t stop him. He used bright, bold colors and made amazing abstract art. He even sold his work at his lemonade stand, “Jeff’s Bistro.” That summer he sold over 5,000 note cards and raised over $15,000 for The Children’s Tumor Foundation.

Hanson has advanced his work and now paints on canvas with acrylics. He continues to paint for charities that have “touched his life,” raising as much as $15,000 for each. He has contributed to charities such as Children’s Mercy Hospital and the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

As a young teenage boy, Hanson has chosen not to dwell on his condition, but has helped others through his talent. Currently, he has raised over $350,000 and wants to reach at least $1 million.

His amazing work and big heart hasn’t gone unnoticed. Sir Elton John gifted The Children’s Tumor Foundation in Hanson’s honor, Whole Foods Market used Hanson’s art for its 2011 eco-friendly shopping bag, with proceeds benefitting the Make-A-Wish Foundation and People Magazine named him a “Hero Among Us.”

He has even touched the lives of celebrities such as Billy Joel, Michael Cera, Jack Black, Warren Buffet and Bill Gates.

As proud parents of Hanson, Hal and Julie describe their sons work and spirit. “‘Sight for sore eyes’ is an expression commonly used to describe a jubilant reunion among friends, as well as something pleasing to the eye. It connotes uplifting emotions, safety and security. For Jeff Hanson, it is his joyous art, interpreting the world through his ‘sore eyes’ and splashing it onto canvas for all of us to share.”

Click here to check out Hanson’s inspirational work and buy a piece for yourself!

About Allyson Koerner

Allyson Koerner is a graduate from Emerson College where she obtained her Master’s in Print & Multimedia journalism. Passionate about writing, reading and entertainment, she is looking to make her way into the journalism profession.

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