In an effort to increase participation and awareness of the American Cancer Society Relay For Life last year. I introduced a fundraising T shirt design contest to the school districts I serve. The winner received $200.00 cash prize and recognized at their county Relay. We had 25 entries in 2017. The winner was a senior from Greenwood High.
Thanks to all students that participated in the contest this year, we had 172 entries. Our winner is a 5th grader from Newberry Middle school. His name is Braxton Neal and he has been drawing for 3 years.
He developed his passion after wanting to know how such characters as The Scooby Doo Gang were created. He watched several videos on YouTube. From there he became self-taught. He started out drawing cartoon characters from his favorite shows. He didn't just do it through pens and pencils, he developed the same ability through use of Legos as well.
Braxton has Asperger's Syndrome (a form of Autism), but that hasn't hindered his art ability. His mother would share his work on Facebook. He only took one year of art lessons with the local recreation department. But his art abilities have continued to thrive.
Everyone within the community knew about his passion to draw, so when the information was sent to his mother, he was excited about entering the contest. There were about 4 drawings before the final one. But she had to explain to him what the theme of this years’ contest was. That was a challenge because he couldn't think of anything to go along with it. So, she had to drill him a little bit to get him to think.
She I asked him what comes to mind when think about what people use to celebrate parties and such. He immediately said balloons and fireworks. He also wanted to know about the Relay For Life symbol, and she showed it to him. He said it looked the letter "O" so that's how he came up with the concept of his drawing. She tried explaining to him the cause behind the contest, but he seemed to be more concerned with the cash prize.
Braxton’s design is on neon green and neon yellow shirts. They are available in Abbeville, Greenwood, McCormick and Newberry counties at the cost of $15 each. $7 from the price of each shirt sold will go to the Relay For Life event in that county. The remaining amount is to cover the cost of the shirt.
Braxton hopes that many people will get a shirt to help fight cancer. To learn more about the shirts or Relay in your community, go to relayforlife.org and locate your event or call Hoyt Dorn, community manager at 864-871-4210 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For cancer information 24/7 go to cancer.org or call 1-800-227-2345