Arts & Culture

Discover All Things Regional in Central PA’s art and culture scene. Join hosts Cary Burkett and Joe Ulrich as they make artistic discoveries throughout the midstate. From music and visual arts to theatre, museums, literature and more! Listen every Wednesday and Friday on witf 89.5 and 93.3 for features highlighting the best and brightest cultural happenings in the region.

CHEMOWARRIOR: The Eli Sidler Foundation

Written by Cary Burkett, Arts & Culture Desk and WITF Host | Jan 13, 2017 2:42 PM
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Eli Sidler

It started as a nickname.

A father, watching his young son struggle with an aggressive form of bone cancer known as Ewing's Sarcoma, coined the phrase. Bret Sidler told his son Eli that he was brave in facing cancer and the all the debilitating chemotherapy treatments. He called Eli a "chemo warrior".

Eli was diagnosed with the disease at the age of eight. His mother, Sue Sidler, said he never thought of himself as particularly brave. But, she said, he liked the nickname and took pride in it.

At age 16, when the cancer took his life, Eli was at Hershey Medical Center. At his bedside, his parents told his doctor about the nickname, "chemowarrior".  One of the last things that Eli said was, "Trademark it".

Bret and Sue created CHEMOWARRIOR Foundation in 2014 to raise awareness and to raise funds for research into treatment of Ewing's Sarcoma.

The disease primarily affects children. Sue points out that there is very little government and major cancer institution funding for pediatric cancer research. She says only 1 percent of research funds of the American Cancer Society go toward children's cancer, and only about 4 percent of the National Cancer Institute's budget. 

One recent successful fundraiser took place at the Hershey Gardens Conservatory. Called "Wings of Hope", the gala event featured a display of donated art sold by silent auction and live auction.

Now, some of the same artists are contributing pieces to be put on display in the Lowengard Atrium at the WITF Public Media Center. Todd Fry, Mark Bown, and Elizabeth Grassmyer will be contributing artwork inspired by Eli's story. Other artists will be presenting oil paintings, jewelry, pottery, photography and mixed media.

Sue Sidler says that the show is being put together in part to thank many of the artists who participated in the Wings of Hope fundraiser.

The exhibit will be available for viewing during regular business hours. 

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