Buckle up: Three easy steps for finding the right bike helmet

The longer days of spring mean more time to enjoy being outdoors and bike riding. Bicycling is a great activity for every member of the family and the most important piece of equipment is a helmet.

Today, there are a variety of styles and colors to choose from, but no matter which one you like best, make sure it has the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) sticker inside. This label lets you know that your helmet meets safety standards and provides protection when used properly.

Wearing a properly fitted helmet every time you ride your bike reduces the chance of a traumatic head injury by 88 percent. You can fit your helmet in three easy steps:

  • First, make sure it is the right size – your helmet should fit snuggly and not rock back and forth or side to side. If it does, try a smaller size.
  • Once you have the right size, make it level on your head so only one or two fingers fit between your eyebrow and the top of the helmet.
  • Next, adjust the side straps so that they form a V under each ear. Buckle the helmet and pull on the chin strap until it is snug under the chin. You should be able to place two fingers comfortably under the strap beneath your chin. Make sure to buckle your strap every time you wear your helmet.

Oregon law states that children under the age of 16 must wear a helmet when on a bike, scooter, roller skates or skateboard. Doernbecher’s Tom Sargent Safety Center reminds families that everyone should wear a helmet. Be a role model for your child – they learn best from watching you and if they see you wearing your helmet they will be more likely to wear theirs, too.

Children can begin wearing a helmet at one year or with the approval of their primary care provider. Having a child wear a helmet the first time they are transported in a carrier or get on their tricycle establishes an early helmet habit.

It is recommended that bike helmets be replaced every five years or when in an accident. The Doernbecher Tom Sargent Safety Center offers low-cost helmets from Toddler to Adult XL and for community groups, too. Everyone – children and adults – should always wear a helmet when riding a bike.

Be a ROLL MODEL and wear your bike helmet!

Marianne Bridwell-Chapman
Program Coordinator
OHSU Doernbecher Tom Sargent Children’s Safety Center

Finding bravery at Doernbecher

If you’ve been to Doernbecher recently, you may have noticed some new faces outside the 10th floor pediatric hematology/oncology clinic. These “Brave Bots,” designed and created by local artist Gary Hirsch, invite passersby to take a photo and explore one of the questions painted on the bots:

  • Who helps you be brave?
  • What’s your superpower?
  • What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?

The installation at Doernbecher is the first Brave Bot mural inside of a children’s hospital. It grew out of a smaller project: the tiny domino tile Brave Bots Gary paints and donates to local hospitals.

Nurse Manager Laura Nibert, who works in Doernbecher’s Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Treatment Center, experienced firsthand the power the tiny bots held. Her daughters, Marlo and Hadley, have both been hospitalized for health challenges stemming from their premature birth. After realizing what a helpful tool the Brave Bots were for patients and parents alike, Laura and our Child Life team worked with Gary to come up with a larger-than-life installation in Doernbecher. Below, she shares her story.

How did the Brave Bots help your family?

One of my daughters, Marlo, has cerebral palsy and has been through a lot of surgeries. Before her femoral osteotomy surgery, we gave her a Brave Bot, which she named “BeeBee,” and told her that this little bot was what she’d hold in her hand when she needed to be brave. They let her take it into surgery, and she held it in her hand the whole time – when she came out of surgery, she still had it. From then on, she had to have BeeBee in her hand for any procedure. She would give it one kiss and hold it to her heart. Even though she might still feel pain, her routine made her feel brave and it helped her focus.

How do you think the Brave Bot installation will impact Doernbecher?

I think that the mural is a really interactive way for kids to express themselves. A lot of kids want to help other kids, and taking a photo with the Brave Bot and sharing what helps them be brave is one way to do that. The questions are simple, but the answers are profound. This thought process helps not just kids with cancer – it helps all kids in the hospital, because they all have to be brave.

It’s not just for the kids, though – it’s for the parents as well. When you’re in the hospital with your child, it’s almost like the world is pulled out underneath you. You’re left with a sense of helplessness. If a child can determine what helps them be brave, the parents can take that and use it to help them through whatever it is they might be experiencing. It enables parents not to feel so helpless in what might otherwise seem like a helpless situation.

How does being a nurse impact you when your own kids are in the hospital? 

I have a medical background, but that doesn’t make me any different from other parents. I’ve been in the hospital with my kids many times. When they’re being poked and prodded, I know, of course, that it has to be done, but I’ve often felt helpless. As a parent, your job is to always protect your child. You know that the nurses and physicians are doing what they need to do to help your child get better, but it can still be very difficult to watch. I think the Brave Bots help give a little power back to the parents in identifying what helps their own kids be brave.

We’re turning the tables and asking you some of the Brave Bot prompts! First, who helps you be brave? 

My kids help me be brave, as do the children that come through our clinic. These kids fight for their lives and really have a great outlook despite all that they’re going through.

What’s your superpower?

I have two: First, the love of children. Second, wanting to make the world a better place for all kids, which I do by being a nurse. I’ve been a nurse for almost 23 years and I like to think that in those years I’ve been able to make the world a better place for kids.

What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?

Becoming a mom. There’s so much uncertainty that comes with pregnancy and having children. The bravest thing I’ve ever done was definitely the best thing I’ve ever done. I have the best children – they are my world.


Share your stories of bravery in the comments below, or by snapping a photo and uploading it with the hashtag #DoernbecherBot.

In the news:
Robot dominoes help sick kids at Doernbecher (KGW)
Photo album: The Brave Bots are here! 


Meet MyMusicRx

A children’s hospital may not seem like the most likely place for a jam session or a guitar lesson, but it happens every day at Doernbecher through a Children’s Cancer Association (CCA) program called MyMusicRx. The CCA’s mission is to bring joy into the lives of seriously ill children, teens and their families, and MyMusicRx strives to do so by leveraging the healing power of music. Program specialists visit local medical facilities to interact with patients and their families in 1:1 and group settings, and the program website provides “music medicine” digitally for kids across the nation.

With the help of Doernbecher’s Child Life team, MyMusicRx specialists work with patients in a variety of ways. After introductions, they get a feel for the types of music the patients like best. If the patient has experience singing, playing an instrument or dancing, for example, the specialist might offer music lessons or the two will play music together. If music making is too arduous, specialists and their patient pals watch and talk about music videos together.

Take a moment to meet two MyMusicRx specialists (and talented musicians) who work with kids at Doernbecher, spreading joy, healing and a bit of magic through music.

Meet Matt

Matt French has worked for MyMusicRx for two and a half years. Prior to his time with CCA, he worked as a private drums/guitar instructor. 

How would you describe the impact music has on a patient? 

Music is a great distraction from their treatment – it makes the kids feel normal for the 20 or 30 minutes that we’re in there. Most of the time, when there’s a knock on the door, there are medical personnel on the other side;  MyMusicRx helps patients forget about why they’re here. Parents, too, are able to relax and watch their kids have fun and laugh and play music with them. If a patient has had something traumatic happen that affects their plans for their future, we might be able to go in there and teach them how to play an instrument, which could completely change their direction and their future and motivations.

You’ve built relationships with lots of patients and families. Any you’d care to share? 

There’s a patient I’ve been working with since I started, and I still see him regularly. He was here before I started working here, and I’ve maintained a relationship with him, playing events with him – he’s taken music and made it a lifetime thing. He’s had a lot of opportunities because of the CCA, including auditioning for “America’s Got Talent” and recording with Chris Funk [of The Decemberists]. Together, we established that music was a big, big thing to him, and it’s truly helping him through his life.


Meet Chris

Chris Rubeo joined the MyMusicRx team almost a year ago, having previously worked as a facilitator in an expressive arts therapy program. 

What interested you about working for CCA’s MyMusicRx program? 

Before this, I was doing work in a group home with kids who had a history of trauma and abuse. I wanted to continue working with kids in a pediatric setting using music in a therapeutic way. What appealed to me about CCA how was how patient driven the programs are and how much we tailor each interaction to the specific patient we’re seeing.

The specialists each bring different types of interactions to the table depending on our backgrounds and specialties – we each sort of work in different arenas based on our skills. Our mission, which is to bring joy into the lives of kids, gives us license to use whatever tools, methods and approaches work well for those kids. I love that MyMusicRx is not prescriptive in that sense. We have a lot of leeway, which allows us to do some pretty cool stuff.

How does music impact patients of varying ages? 

That’s an excellent and really hard question to answer because it really depends on the kids. For kids under 5, music is still really interconnected with exploration and play; it serves a more basic function for them. In some situations, music helps with really basic life functions like sleeping. It adds a certain normalcy to their experience in the hospital.

For the older children moving into their teens, music is very wound up with their identity making: finding who they are and expressing who they are for themselves and for others. For this population, discussions of music and playing music have a lot more to do with letting them express themselves, and perhaps to process things like anxieties, fears and pain in a nonverbal way.

What’s something you want others to know about the kids you work with?

When I tell people what I do, they often respond, “It must be so hard working with those kids every day.” What they don’t realize is it’s actually super fun – kids are incredibly resilient and they just want to be kids. What we do every day is help them express the joy and playfulness that, as kids, they want to express and experience. We’re not imposing it on them; we’re just helping them get there.


You can learn more about the CCA here and check out the latest on MyMusicRx here.

If you’ve ever worked with MyMusicRx, we’d love to hear all about your experience in the comments!

2014 in review: small patients, big stories.

It’s difficult to capture and share even a fraction of the amazing stories that happen every single day at OHSU Doernbecher – and you know what? This is a marvelous challenge to face.

From technological advancements to a remarkable former Neonatal Intensive Care Unit patient’s lemonade stand fundraiser, we took a look back to see which stories had the greatest impact on you, our reader. Here’s what we learned: You care about kids’ health, happiness and safety just as much as we do.

Below you’ll find this year’s most-read blog posts. Happy reading!

1. The childless pediatrician: a parent’s worst nightmare?
Allison Roland, M.D., chief resident in pediatrics, discusses the concern that parents might not take her seriously simply because she does not have children of her own. As you can imagine, this ignited quite the conversation – check out the comments section and add your take!

2. Resilience
Get to know Alex, a patient whose sense of humor, intelligence and engaging personality helped his parents and his medical team cope with the challenges of his brain tumor. Nate Selden, M.D., Ph.D., head of pediatric neurosurgery, describes Alex’s inspiring journey through multiple operations and therapies – and an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show!

3. Talk to your kids about energy drinks
Kids and parents know energy drinks aren’t healthy, yet consumption is increasing. Registered dietician April Mitsch provides some talking points for parents.

4. A note of thanks from 8-year-old former NICU patient Elle
Elle’s favorite things about Doernbecher include Bingo, prizes, ice cream and visits from fun people (and pets). Our favorite thing about Elle? Everything.

5. Share a room with your baby, not a bed
To co-sleep or not to co-sleep? That is the question Elizabeth Super, M.D., tackles in this post using recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

6. Sleep is awesome!
The title says it all: Sleep is truly a beautiful thing for the brain and the body. Holger Link, M.D., provides tips to help your family get the right amount of zzz’s (and reap the health benefits).

7. Healing the healer: OHSU Doernbecher physician-in-training launches “The Well Resident”
Megan Furnari, M.D., writes about the importance of wellness for medical residents like herself and efforts to create a new curriculum for all primary care residents. Stay tuned for more developments on The Well Resident!

8. Technology that matters
What’s the deal with the enormous crane towering above the Marquam Hill Campus? We’re so glad you asked. Nate Selden, M.D., Ph.D., explains how Oregon’s first iMRI suite will help advance the care of kids.

9. I think my child has the flu. Should we go to the Emergency Room?
It’s a question many parents are familiar with – especially during flu season. Here are some guidelines to help make an informed decision.

10. Let’s get healthy! Teaching children about healthy food choices
Eating well is important – and so is talking about nutrition. Susan Bagby, M.D., and Lisa Marriott, M.D., offer some tips for helping your children make healthy choices.

Whether it’s safety tips, patient stories or behind-the-scenes hospital photos, we want to tell the stories you care about. In the comments below, let us know what you’d like us to share in 2015! And in the meantime, stay in the loop by following us on Facebook and Twitter and our OHSU account on Instagram!

Lisa McMahan
Social Media Coordinator
OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital

Gifts for good

Here at OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, we’re very fortunate to partner with organizations and community members who donate their time and money to help us help kids. This is especially evident during the holiday season, when volunteers descend in droves on Doernbecher to decorate units, sing carols and donate stuffed animals (among about a million other great things they do year-round).

We want to take a moment to thank the organizations that work to benefit OHSU Doernbecher directly through product sales. We’ve compiled a list of presents that will directly benefit our hospital and its pint-sized patients. We invite you to consider the items below as you finish up your holiday shopping to make your gifts count!

Cards for Kids
This program, now in its 23rd year, transforms artwork collected from OHSU Doernbecher patients, siblings and professional artists into classic cards for the holiday season. Purchase at retail locations, by mail or online – details here.

Holiday Ornaments From Friends of Doernbecher Dru’s Chapter
Deck the halls with baubles – and Dolly! This ornament, which is fashioned after the Doernbecher logo (lovingly named Dolly), is hand painted in Poland and proceeds go directly to Doernbecher. Order here.

Kiwanis Doernbecher Children’s Cancer Program Ornament Sales
Locally handcrafted ornaments benefit Doernbecher patients battling cancer – 100 percent of proceeds go toward advanced research and treatment of pediatric cancer. Order here.

American Girl Dolls
For every American Girl Doll purchased through Dec. 18, American Girl will donate one doll to the Children’s Hospital Association, to which we belong. Some restrictions apply – view details and help share the wonder of the holidays here.

Happy shopping!

Lisa McMahan
Social Media Coordinator
OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital


A classroom in a hospital: Doernbecher’s school program

Supporting hospitalized students for nearly a century, the Doernbecher School Program has a long history of helping students learn and grow while they are in the hospital. In an environment often full of unfamiliar faces and noises, Doernbecher’s two classrooms (one on 9S and one on 10S) and dedicated staff provide a sense of normalcy and a sense of community, customizing curricula and experiences to meet each student’s needs and interests.

Hematology Oncology Teacher Anna Balmaseda and Acute Care Teachers Debbie Mettler and Heidi Worden share more about the program and what it means for patients, families and the teachers themselves.

Do all children’s hospitals have school programs? How are they structured and funded?

Children’s hospitals typically have some component of education service, but they are very diverse across the country. Some have licensed teaching staff through local districts; others staff their own teachers. Occasionally, social workers or Child Life specialists play a role in education coordination as well. A dedicated teaching program is ideal for serving the educational needs of hospitalized children.

In our local area, hospital school programs are pretty consistent because of our administration and team format. The Multnomah Education Service District administers our program, which includes several other Portland-area hospitals, so the programs are pretty consistent. The funding for this program comes directly from the Oregon Department of Education.

How does the Doernbecher Hospital School Program differ from a more traditional school setting?

Our classrooms serve students from kindergarten through 12th grade – kind of like a one-room schoolhouse. We strive to individualize instruction but we recognize the importance of being social, so we use group activities to encourage participation and collaboration among students. Our priority is to meet students where they are – medically, emotionally and academically – then encourage them to continue to grow.

One asset of our program is that we try to create a curriculum or experience based on the student’s current interests, strengths and talents. We recognize the need to be relevant to the student and his or her family when we introduce the idea of school in the hospital, which might mean practicing math exercises or taking a spelling test. It could also mean participating in one of our partner programs like science outreach with OMSI or a music class with CCA’s MusicRx.

Generally speaking, the school is a positive experience for parents and for learners. Once parents are reassured that we will meet their child at his or her current level, they see the potential of our collaboration. As is true with the medical team, parents are a big part of the school team.

What’s your favorite part about teaching students at Doernbecher?
Working closely with such special students and families is truly an honor. As educators, we are always looking to discover a student’s gifts, strengths and talents, and this is a unique setting to do that. We’re always inspired by what we find and are encouraged by students’ growth!


Pictured from top left: Linda Criswell, Acute Care Teacher; Anna Balmaseda, Hematology Oncology Teacher; Debbie Mettler, Acute Care Teacher; Margaret Eng, Hematology Oncology Teacher; Heidi Worden, Acute Care Teacher; Kerri Russell, Intermediate Care Teacher



Technology that matters

Recently, friends of Doernbecher Children’s Hospital may have noticed a huge hole in the ground at the southwest corner of the building (not to mention a crane you can spot easily from east Portland).

No, we are not having plumbing problems. Instead, this hole will soon transform into a small but crucial two-story ‘bump out’ that expands the surgical suite area of Doernbecher, and enables one of the most startling and powerful technologies in the world to advance our care of children with brain tumors, epilepsy and other potentially devastating illnesses of the central nervous system.

Neurosurgery is a game of millimeters: just enough removal to cure a child of their serious disease, but not enough to alter their function, their ability to grow and develop, or to change the nature of the special child who came to us for care. When neurosurgery as a specialty was founded at the turn of the last century, my predecessors had to guess where a tumor resided based on a crude neurological examination, and perform ‘exploratory’ surgery of the brain. They operated in dimly lit operating theaters, without magnification or focused light. Survival was low, and morbidity (injury) was high.

Since that time, neurosurgery has marched inexorably forward in attempting to improve the care of patients through better technological aids to diagnosis, navigation in the brain, and visualization. The first step was simple: focused lamps worn on the surgeon’s head to better light the operative field. Then came operating microscopes, and the miracle of CAT scans, allowing us to look inside the brain (and leading to a Nobel prize for the inventors). Most recently, MR imaging improved our ability to tell normal from diseased brain and spinal cord, and computers allowed us, in principle, to navigate with millimeter-level accuracy.

Huge challenges still remain, though. As soon as we approach the brain during a surgical procedure, release of cerebrospinal fluid and ‘sagging’ degrade the accuracy of our navigation computers. Also, even with the most modern techniques and high-power operating microscopes, telling diseased from normal brain in the operating room can be very challenging or impossible.

At the end of 2015, Doernbecher will complete construction on the first pediatric high-strength intraoperative magnetic resonance imaging, or iMRI, suite in the state of Oregon, and one of few such facilities in children’s hospitals around the world (it will be the second in the western United States). This ‘3 Tesla’ power iMRI will allow me and the other pediatric neurosurgeons at Doernbecher to more safely and completely remove even more difficult brain tumors and epilepsy lesions in children than ever before, as well as improve treatment for cysts, vascular malformations and many other disorders. The miracle of the iMRI is in allowing us to obtain new MRI images during brain surgery, updating our computer navigation maps, and assuring that we can complete the removal of every bit of a challenging lesion.

Locating the iMRI at Doernbecher appropriately recognizes the spectacular growth and subspecialty sophistication of our program, which welcomed a third faculty neurosurgeon just last month. Christina “Tina” Sayama, M.D., a top national recruit, came to us from fellowship at Texas Children’s Hospital and residency at the University of Utah. Doernbecher is now the only hospital in Oregon history to offer professor-level pediatric neurosurgical care during all hours, all days.

We are also more prepared to use the iMRI facility effectively and efficiently immediately upon opening, due to the skill and expertise of my other faculty colleague, Lissa Baird, M.D., who trained with this technology at the first site in the world to install it: Brigham and Women’s Hospital at Harvard University (our facility at Doernbecher will have twice the imaging power of that original unit in Boston). A nationally recognized tumor and endoscopic surgeon, Dr. Baird will help us lead the way into this new era.

I am tremendously optimistic that Doernbecher will continue to fulfill its mission as a local and regional leader in sophisticated neurosurgical care for the children that need it most. Through careful and coordinated strategic recruitments and commitment to the most effective surgical technology, we will expand this impact even farther, and contribute to the best standards and outcomes possible, anywhere.

Nathan R. Selden, M.D., Ph.D.
Mario and Edie Campagna Chair of Pediatric Neurosurgery
Director, OHSU Neurological Surgery Residency Program
OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital

#FreestyleFriday: OHSU employee Gabe Flores

OHSU employee Gabe Flores got his first pair of Nikes (blue and white with a single Velcro strap) when he was in the third grade.

“I was the talk of the school!” he said. 

The next year, he acquired his first pair of Nike Air Jordans. From the looks of things, it doesn’t appear that he’ll be slowing down anytime soon – he estimates that he has 70 pairs of shoes, 30 of which are Jordans. His collection has grown so extensive, he had to raise his bed 9 inches to store additional shoes.

Gabe, a trainer in Organizational Effectiveness, has been at OHSU for 15 years. He started out in patient transport and worked his way up to his current position. He’s also enrolled in a Business Management program at PSU with plans to graduate next June.

As an OHSU employee and a self-admitted “shoe hoarder,” Gabe’s interest in the Doernbecher Freestyle program comes as no surprise. The program, now in its 11th year, is a unique collaboration between OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital and Nike. Each year, a handful of Doernbecher patients team up with Nike designers to create customized (and highly sought-after) Nike shoe and apparel collections.

“Collecting sneakers is one thing,” Gabe said. “Taking pride and knowing what they’re all about is another thing. It’s not for personal gain; it’s for the kids.”

He’s seen first-hand the impact the program has on patient-designers’ lives – Jordan Dark, a 2009 Doernbecher Freestyle designer, was Gabe’s neighbor growing up in Mt. Angel, Oregon.

“I’ve known Jordan since he was born,” Gabe said. “I saw his reaction to being asked. The program really changes the kids’ outlook on life sometimes – they’re exposed to the marketing and business aspects as well as the design process.”

Gabe’s older sister was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma at age 29, a diagnosis that impacted his entire family.

“Knowing what our family had to go through with my sister, I know it’s not only the patient you’re caring for, but the families as well.”

Nike wants to do what Doernbecher does by putting kids’ well-being at the forefront, but in a different way, Gabe said.

“It really shows that both organizations care about kids. It’s really neat,” he said.

So will Gabe be posted up at his computer when this year’s collection becomes available, hoping to snag a pair?



The 2014 Doernbecher Freestyle collection will be unveiled Friday, Nov. 7. If you’re in the Portland area, you can meet this year’s patient-designer crew in person and celebrate their hard work by purchasing tickets here. Follow along online using the #dbfreestyle hashtag and following @OHSUDoernbecher on Twitter. 

Free flu vaccine for patients, parents and families at Doernbecher

Edited 10/20/16 to include up-to-date vaccination information

OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital is offering free flu shots to the parents and close family contacts of its established patients.

The program is intended to protect OHSU Doernbecher’s youngest and most vulnerable patients. Babies younger than 6 months, for example, cannot receive the flu vaccine.The next best means of protection is to “cocoon” the infants, or insulate them from infection, by immunizing their family members.

OHSU Doernbecher’s “Free Vaccine for Parents” campaign for its established patients and their families is funded by the OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital Foundation. The campaign is organized and executed by a group of OHSU Doernbecher pediatric residents who work together with health professions students to deliver as many vaccines as possible to our community.

The workgroup hopes that this pioneering work may become the standard of care for children’s hospital nationwide.


  • Family members must be 18 or older.
  • Family members cannot be employees of OHSU.
  • Family members cannot be currently pregnant.
  • Family members will be screened for flu vaccine contraindications, a condition for which the flu vaccine may harmful to the patient, prior to vaccination.


Free vaccinations will be offered to our established patient family members starting Monday, Oct. 24, subject to volunteer availability.

Dates: Monday, Oct. 24, 2016, until supplies last

Hours: Mondays and Thursdays from 1 to 3 p.m. and Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to noon

Location: OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital first-floor lobby



Behind the illustration with Maryanna Hoggatt (and Simon)

When I was approached to participate in the Amazing Storybook project for Doernbecher Children’s Hospital and their creative agency, Sockeye, I was thrilled. It was an opportunity to work for a well-respected children’s hospital, and as part of a campaign developed by Sockeye, the theme of the illustration closely aligned with something I identify with in my own work: encouraging children to be brave and face their fears.

Adapting my creative style to this storybook illustration for Doernbecher was very natural. Outside of freelance projects, I’m creating a whole army of animal soldiers for a series called “Animal Battle.” This body of work, while meant for all ages, is really aimed at kids. I’ve taken a complex concept, which is about our internal struggles to makedreams a reality, and dressed it up as fuzzy animals wearing colorful costumes and carrying wooden swords. In “Animal Battle,” brave animals fight against fear and doubt. In the Doernbecher illustration, a brave little boy faces illness. Naturally, I put a wooden sword in his hand.

I scratched out a few rough drafts on paper, tweaking the sketches until I was happy with the composition, then I transferred the drawing to watercolor paper. I’m a traditional-medium kind of girl at heart, so I painted this illustration by hand – sometimes with a ridiculously tiny brush. The final stage includes of few sweeps of digital magic before I packaged the whole thing up and called it done.

I’m in the habit of naming my characters. It makes them seem more real. The name “Simon” popped into my head on the first sketch before my pencil lifted from the paper. He just looked like a Simon, and somewhere in my memory a string tugged, and I remembered there was a Simon in the “Alvin and the Chipmunks” cartoon. He also wore glasses, was incredibly smart, witty, and by far the most responsible of the three chipmunks. It was a good fit.

Sometimes, it’s hard to know if what I’m doing is making any difference. With Doernbecher helping children every single day in the battle against illness and injury, all I can hope is that maybe my characters and drawings can be a small light in the darkness. Maybe a parent will see this illustration and show it to their child, like a page from a storybook, and say, “Look, you can be brave, too.”
Just like Simon.


Maryanna Hoggatt
To find out more about Animal Battle, visit www.animalbattleart.com, or visit Maryanna’s portfolio site.


Doernbecher Best in the Country U.S. News & World Report


Participation Guidelines

Remember: information you share here is public; it isn't medical advice. Need advice or treatment? Contact your healthcare provider directly. Read our Terms of Use and this disclaimer for details.
wordpress stats plugin