By JESSICA CRAWFORD
Brenton Kirkhart has a passion for art. With his mother’s guidance and God-given talent, he has turned his passion into a craft. Now he is taking his craft to the next level, he will use his work to provide a heart-felt gift to a family in need.
Kirkhart, 19, is a 2010 graduate of Turpin High School. Currently, he is a freshman at Oklahoma Panhandle State University. When Kirkhart learned of Turpin, Okla., first grade student Victoria Knisley’s recent battle with Wilms tumors, he knew exactly what he wanted to do to help.
Brenton said Victoria has always had a special place in his heart. By using his art, he and anyone else wishing to help Victoria and her family, can make a difference in one little girl’s life.
“She has been a friend of the family and we go to the same church,” he said. “I helped out with Sunday School and all that at the church, and she was always there. She is just a pretty nice little girl.
“When we found out she had cancer of her kidneys, I wanted to help out in some way by doing a fundraiser,” he continued. “I had been doing all of these portraits and people were wanting me to draw for them. People were willing to pay up to $150 for me to do these, so I thought surely they would pay $10 for a ticket to have one done. So, I figured I would sell tickets and all the proceeds would go to her.”
For $10, a ticket can be purchased to win a pencil-sketched portrait drawn by Kirkhart – for $25, three chances can be purchased. Tickets are available at Panhandle Pizza in Turpin, The Leader and Times office in Liberal or by calling Kirkhart at (580) 539-1032.
“It is a chance to win a portrait of the winner’s choice,” Kirkhart said. “They can get one of their wife, husband, kids, just whoever they want. It will be about 18 by 12 inches in size and will be in either a brown or black frame, it will be matted.”
Kirkhart said all money raised will be going to Victoria and her family. With her current health problems, she is having to travel rather often to Oklahoma City.
Victoria lives with her grandparents, Jesse and Billie Rutledge. She has two youngers sisters and an older brother, She was diagnosed with Stage 2 cancer just before the turn of the new year.
“She has tumors on both kidneys,” Billie Rutledge said. “We are kind of lucky because it is on top of one kidney and on the bottom of the other kidney. Ninety percent of the kidney cancer in children are Wilms tumors.”
Just Saturday morning, Billie said Victoria’s health is improving and she is beginning to act like a typical energetic 6-year-old.
“She is doing really good,” she said. “We started her second round of treatments Tuesday. The way she is acting – thank God – you wouldn’t even know she was sick.”
Brenton feels blessed to be able to use his gift in such a special way. He encourages anyone wanting further information or questions regarding purchasing tickets to contact Panhandle Pizza at (580) 778-3223.
The winner of the free sketched portrait will be announced on the evening of March 26 at the Turpin United Methodist Church Annual Chili Cookoff.
“It feels pretty good and it feels right,” he said. “It just feels like the right thing to do. I hope I can encourage others to do the same, just help out however they can.”