Where Are They Now? - Catching Up with Our Calendar Kids Contest Cover Artists

AKF Staff  |  Posted
Danielle Long calendar kids contest winner

In 1995, Starbucks introduced the Frappuccino. Michael Jackson’s single “You Are Not Alone” was at the top of the charts. And moviegoers everywhere lined up to see Disney’s box office hit “Toy Story,” the first feature-length computer-animated film from Pixar. Another notable moment in creative history from 20 years ago was the first American Kidney Fund Calendar Kids Contest, giving kids living with kidney disease a chance to express themselves through art and to be recognized for their unique creations. Over the past two decades, we’ve been honored to get to know hundreds of inspiring children through this contest.

We recently caught up with a few of our past calendar cover artists.  Let’s see what they’ve been up to:

Danielle L.—2012 Cover Artist

Three years after our online community selected her art to appear on the AKF 2013 calendar cover, Danielle is perfecting her skills in the visual arts by experimenting with paint and ink. Her most recent work adds an artistic flair to a historic image: a self-portrait as Rosie the Riveter.  Danielle also enjoys performing in plays and musicals with her theater class. She was just accepted into the Governor’s School of the Visual Arts at Middle Tennessee State University and received a full scholarship to attend this summer.  On how art and friendship comfort her:  “When I feel upset about my day, I enjoy simply opening my sketchbook to make myself relax and not ponder my problems. Drawing and expressing my emotions on paper put my mind at ease and I stop worrying about what has affected my day. My sister and friends also help distract me and feel better.”

Amelia R.—2013 Cover Artist

Amelia was only 7 years old when her artwork received the most votes in our online contest. Now, she is working hard in fourth grade while learning to dance, cheerlead and play soccer. She is also learning to play the piano. Amelia still draws and paints and often keeps her work in her journal. She is 6½ years post-kidney transplant and her mom says Amelia’s kidneys are working great! To get through a difficult day, Amelia adores hugs and kisses from her mom, snuggling with her dog Lilly and doing cartwheels. Her words of encouragement to children diagnosed with kidney disease: “All things are possible, if you believe.”

Natanael E.—2010 Cover Winner

What do Bob Marley, Mickey Mouse and Marilyn Monroe have in common? Just ask Natanael, past calendar cover artist and now owner of N8’s Barbershop: All three have been artistically rendered as portraits in his clients’ haircuts. Natanael, 23, was born with a genetic form of kidney disease. He has undergone two kidney transplants: the first donated from his dad and the second donated just last month from a family friend.  He is married and about to celebrate his baby’s second birthday. His art has appeared in two AKF calendars—first in August 2008 and then on the cover of the 2010 calendar! A true survivor with a positive outlook on life, Natanael says art, coupled with looking on the bright side of life, got him through his toughest days: “Always stay positive. Plan your life and dreams and stay focused. Because life goes on and positive thinking is good for your health.”

Yasmine Y.—2008 Cover Artist

Since her art appeared on the cover of our 2008 calendar, Yasmine has been very active: working full-time, exercising regularly and trying to stay healthy. She took a memorable trip to Hawaii a few years ago and just recently became engaged! When she was younger, Yasmine was on dialysis, but seven years ago she received a combined kidney-liver transplant.  Though she doesn’t draw much anymore, she sews whenever time permits and absolutely loves it. Yasmine shares what gets her through her toughest days: “Thinking that I am very special and so lucky to be alive after being so very ill. There were times when I wasn't so sure I would make it, but because I did make it, I feel like I can get through anything and everything! Always believing that I have been through the worst already makes me get through difficult days.”

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