10-Year old Chase Balay has a malignant brain tumor. This beautiful 4th grade boy from my town Cresskill, NJ, an accomplished young artist with a special creative spirit, is battling something that is hard to put into words and frankly represents the nightmare we all dread as our worst possible fear. This is what it is …I can’t sugar coat it, but I want to tell you about one of the most emotional and important efforts I have ever seen using art as a tool for healing and creating context.
The Merritt School in Cresskill, NJ approached One River in January to tell us about Chase. They simply said that Chase was dying and they had an idea to celebrate his life through art. We jumped in instantaneously and this past Friday was one of, if not the most moving day I have had in over ten years running creative education businesses.
165 3rd, 4th and 5th graders…each created an individual artwork in honor of Chase. They used his imagery…monsters and robots, to honor Chase and in some ways to preserve his lasting spirit. These objects were presented at One River School in Englewood this past Friday night and our community came out in the hundreds to support Chase, rally around this unbelievably emotional moment, raise money and celebrate life.
Chase’s Dad Erik is extraordinary and I am certain he and Chase’s Mom Julie have more passion and spirit than just about anyone in the world. His brother Ryder is a bundle of energy who is so lucky to have such a supportive system around him. Chase’s grandparents spoke and presented a slideshow of Chase’s art and it was riveting. The staff at Merritt School and the parents and community in Cresskill should be admired. Chase’s friends and peers…this may be the most impressive group of young kids I have ever met.
There is a fundraising component…we auctioned artwork from the event and there is an online tool to support Chase at:
Hug your kids. Think about how precious life is. Celebrate the special beauty that art provides for humanity…it is a language that allows us to connect in times of good and bad.
Matt Ross FounderContinue Reading