Whiteland teen's art program gets big boost  


WHITELAND, Ind. (WTHR) - Art is what Emma Stumpf uses to express her emotions while battling a brain tumor.

Blue paint reveals she is sad. Yellow paint indicates she's happy.

"It lets me get my feelings out. Sadness, happy, anger, joy, it lets you not take it out on other people," Stumpf said.

She values expression so much, she wanted to make sure other kids confined to their hospital beds had access to art too.

"I was in the hospital for many days not being able to do anything and art therapists weren't always able to get to us," Stumpf said. "I love sharing and I want to share this with others."

School art teacher Lisa Durst believed in the cause. She helped Stumpf organize art kits and the head of a south side softball tournament created a fundraiser to cover the cost.

"It raised about $3,000 and that was the beginning. It really, really took off, said Emma's dad, Craig Stumpf.

Buying supplies, stuffing bags and making deliveries helped distract from Stumpf's intense medical treatments.

"She was diagnosed with a pilocytic astrocytoma brain tumor. She went through 70 weeks of chemotherapy, six- weeks of radiation and she just completed her 24th surgery," said Emma's mother Lori.

Stumpf was just seven years old when the tumor, which she named Herman, was discovered.

"It's very difficult because it is something that never goes away. It is something that you live with every day," said Craig.

Doctors told the family the original tumor was the size of a lemon and was located behind her forehead. 90 percent of the tumor is gone, but re-growth and hemorrhage are real risks.

"She doesn't have any short-term memory from all the brain trauma from the surgeries that she has had. She is back in school full time for the first time in two years but she is in special ed. She is blind in her right eye and has no peripheral vision in her left and her balance is a little off, but other than that she is the happiest kid on the face of the planet," Lori said.

Emma believes she is joyful because her focus outward.

"It was me for a reason. My reason was this: I am helping others and I love helping others."

To date, 20,000 Emma Art Kits have reached children in eleven hospitals in Indiana and twelve nationwide.

The project won a 2017 Jefferson Award, a national honor recognizing public service. Now Stumpf's reach and impact is set to grow exponentially as the Cancer Support Community adds Emma's Art Kits to its programming.

"We have the capacity to grow this into a bigger national program and keep it going. It had gotten a little big, bigger than a family could handle," said Lora Hayes with the Cancer Support Community.

Emma, 15, will have a desk at the CSC Indianapolis facility and work with peers during the summer.

"It makes me feel amazing that I'm able to help other kids and adults be able to get art therapy. Thank you to everyone who volunteers and please keep donating," Emma said.

"Its been a huge blessing to be able to partner with the Cancer Support Community," Lori said. "They are being able to take her project and kind take her legacy and just keep rolling with it. Just the fact her legacy in this project is helping so many other kids and seeing her dream come true."

Learn more about Emma's Art Kits.

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