Art Heals Art has the power to heal. Research studies have shown how participation in the arts contributes to higher quality of life of cancer patients by improving coping resources, self-esteem, and mental and physical health.
The Caring Arts Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing emotional support to Chicago-area cancer patients and their families. Our mission is to facilitate and encourage expression and healing through music, fine art, journaling, photography, and other creative disciplines.
Join us for an event, sponsor an activity, or learn more about how Caring Arts Programs are enhancing the lives of children, adults, and their families living with cancer in the Chicago area.
Lessons in Giving & Receiving If anyone can speak to music’s impact on healing, it’s Kyle Michalek. The 19-year-old college student and budding musician has been involved with the Caring Arts Foundation since the age of nine and credits his guitar, as well as Caring Artist Bill Syniar, with helping him get through a tough time. Diagnosed with a pituitary tumor in 2003, Michalek, a classic southern rock enthusiast, met Syniar, a prolific songwriter and bandleader, at Children’s Memorial Hospital (now Lurie Children’s Hospital.)
“When I started my first round of chemo, I went to the hospital once a week for a year,” Michalek said. “Bill was playing music for the kids there. I just started talking to him and told him I played guitar. He showed me some stuff and eventually I started bringing my guitar and jamming with him.”
A year later in 2004, and again in 2008, the tumor returned. Kyle’s mother, Dina, says that instead of invasive surgery, they decided on chemo — which meant the teen would see much more of Syniar.
“We did chemo every week for a year, and Bill became ‘Guitar Bill’ to us,” Dina Michalek said. “Kyle was extremely sick during that time and it was a real positive that Bill was there. During that time, we had to drive 40 miles every week. We had to take off from work, take off from school—and Kyle didn’t feel well. Bill was just such a great influence. That’s how we got involved.”
In the 10 years the Michaleks have been part of the Caring Arts community, they have attended numerous fundraisers. Now a sophomore studying music at Elgin Community college, he gives back to others what Syniar gave to him—the healing power of music. Last summer he visited Lurie Children’s Hospital with Syniar to perform for the children in oncology. And last December he played at a Caring Arts holiday concert at Gurnee Mills.
“I always wanted to play guitar when I was a kid, but then I wouldn’t feel good,” Kyle Michalek said. “When I started chemo I felt sick all the time and couldn’t do anything. Guitar was always there for me because I only had to pick it up, plug it in, and play. It was my way of getting by. Whenever I meet someone who has to go through this, I tell them they should pick up an instrument—it helps to get through it.”
Dina Michalek says she and Kyle are grateful for the support of the Caring Arts Foundation and the relationship they’ve both developed with Syniar.
“Just having the Caring Arts Foundation is wonderful,” she said. “When you’re going through chemo once a week and see your child sick, to have this wonderful man ask ‘Who’s your favorite band?’ or say, ‘Hey, let me teach you this song by Lynyrd Skynyrd,’ is great. All the way home your child is throwing up and not feeling good, yet you just had this wonderful thing happen. You get through the week and then you’re back at the hospital again. It was a good thing in a bad circumstance.”
19-year-old Kyle Michalek
Kyle (left) performing with Caring Artist Bill Syniar at the Caring Arts Holiday Concert at Gurnee Mills last December
Caring Arts will use “Partnering Power” to provide a day of summer fun at TLC Camp for kids with cancer
Caring Artist, Ellen Lustig, (right) helps a group of girls create cards for sick kids at University of Chicago’s Comer Children’s Hospital. The girls were all models at the hospital’s recent Spring Fashion Show & Tea Benefit at the Women’s Athletic Club of Chicago
R-Gang (above) put on a great show and kept the crowd dancing (below) at a Caring Arts benefit hosted by Drink Niteclub in Schaumburg
“There is a Hindu Blessing which reads:
‘May God gift you with all the Colors of Life…
Colors of Joy… Colors of Happiness…
Colors of Friendship… Colors of Love…
and all other Colors you want to paint
into your life.’
Your artists bring this blessing to light
every time they come to Children's Hospital.”
— Mary Fiorito
Parent-to-Parent Coordinator, Children’s Hospital
Caring Arts Photography View a Day of Caring Arts photography at Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago in this video produced by The Daily Herald. See our Program page for more info.
Caring Arts Music View one of our musical performances at University of Chicago Hospital’s new Center for Care & Discovery in Chicago
Caring Arts Foundation is a 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit organization registered with the state of Illinois FEIN 36-4378926. Your contribution is tax deductible and may also be eligible for matching funds from many corporations.
Partnering Power We find partnering with other organizations that share in our mission to support local cancer patients not only allows us to reach more patients and families, it allows us to combine resources and work more efficiently. We’re doing just that this summer with TLC Camp and a host of local businesses to help local kids with cancer have a great summer! TLC Camp is a 1-week day camp for kids with cancer and their siblings. Caring Arts will provide a full day of programming with the help of the School of Rock and Fitz’s Spare Keys in Elmhurst, who will provide a band and venue for a morning of music and bowling. That will be followed by lunch served up by the Blues on the Grill grilling team, Evivva Eatery in Lisle, and Midwest Technology Solutions of Oak Brook.
In the afternoon the Discover Card’s Network Marketing and Products Solutions team will put together an afternoon of old fashioned picnic games. Teamwork at it’s BEST!
Host a Caring Arts Benefit event
and we'll provide the music!
Hosting a Sunday brunch? Having a company lunchtime barbecue or block party? Got a restaurant looking for midweek entertainment? Turn it into a Caring Arts Benefit and we'll supply music by our world class musicians! We can even help with fun ways to raise money, such as a raffle, auction, wine tasting or other ideas for raising funds, all to benefit local cancer patients. It's a great way for you and your friends or co-workers to get together to make a difference. Just give us a call to explore the possibilities! Contact Barbara at 708-386-9325 to get started!
Minimum donation $500; tax deductible; matching company gifts apply.