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Downtown Spokane heart sculptures to raise funds for Ronald McDonald House

UPDATED: Thu., Nov. 1, 2018, 9:05 a.m.

When local artist Megan Martens-Haworth designed her contribution to the Give Love Heart Project, she focused on how children look at the world, with wonder and innocence. She said the painting, which depicts her 5-year-old sleeping daughter guarded by two foxes, also shows how adults watch over their children and try to protect them from harsh realities.

Martens-Haworth, one of two dozen artists whose work is featured on fiberglass hearts downtown for a Ronald McDonald House fundraiser, said she tried to represent how many parents staying in the facility might feel when their children are in the hospital.

“The wish of every parent is to be able to protect their child from the bad things in the world,” she said. “We feel helpless when they get sick.”

Julie Delaney, spokeswoman for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Inland Northwest, said the painted hearts, which were installed this week, will be on display until the end of February and sold at a gala on March 1. The proceeds from the sale will go toward Ronald McDonald House operating expenses.

She said 25 of the 28 painted hearts have been installed so far, and six hearts have already been sponsored by businesses. When a business sponsors a heart, which costs $3,000, a plaque with its name – along with the Spokane Teachers Credit Union, a partner on the project – goes on its side.

Delaney said the heart project is Inland Northwest Ronald McDonald House’s third art installation fundraiser. The first fundraiser in 2005 featured painted bears, and the second, in 2006, featured carnival animals.

She said the fundraiser was using heart shaped art pieces to reflect the Ronald McDonald House’s theme, “The house that love built,” and to bring attention to their building expansions.

Local artist Nancy Reid Isaak, who painted a bear on her heart, said she wanted to get involved in the fundraiser due to her personal connection to the charity. Two years ago, her grandson was injured in an accident at a mountain lodge and the family had to stay at the Ronald McDonald house for about a week.

Isaak, who started painting about seven years ago when she retired as an Air National Guard executive officer at Fairchild Airforce Base, said her heart was inspired by the first piece she was commissioned to paint. She said she noticed that a bear’s face is similar to a heart and hopes the bright colors will cheer up anyone who looks at it.

“That bear makes people smile,” she said, “and I thought it would be a great thing for the Ronald McDonald House.”

Elisabeth Hooker, marketing and programing director at the Downtown Spokane Partnership, said the organization hopes a few of the businesses the hearts were installed near might purchase the pieces or find some other way to keep them downtown after the installation officially ends. In the meantime, the organization’s clean team will be keep an eye on the hearts in case they are vandalized or damaged in any other way.

Other artists include former Spokane Arts Director Karen Mobley, Vicki West, Nicole Marie Wallace and many others. Delaney said the Inland Northwest Ronald McDonald House would have a map and information about the hearts up on its website next week, and she encouraged visitors taking photos of the art to use the hashtag #givelove when posting on social media.


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