HometownBrazos County


Local organization partners with elementary school to help fellow classmate battling cancer

MidCoast Smackdown
Posted at 1:24 PM, Apr 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-02 21:08:58-04

BRYAN, Texas — A splash of artistic expression is changing lives. Today the winners of a Sam Houston elementary art competition were announced this morning.

Mid-coast Smackdown is a local organization that has set out to help financially support those battling cancer.

Charlie Van Eman was diagnosed with neuroblastoma back in July of 2020. During the fall of that year, the family connected with Mid-Coast Smackdown and their efforts.

”I’ll never forget because we were waiting for Charlie; he was having surgery, and Jason texted us and asked us if Charlie would be the 2022 kid,” said Angela Van Eman, mother of a Mid-Coast Smackdown recipient.

The emotions of that difficult year just come flooding back.

“It’s always hard going back to those moments, that was a very hard year,” said Van Eman.

But organizations like Mid-Coast Smackdown help ease the pain of that journey.

”We’re here to give money directly to families that are impacted by cancer. We’re here to help them with costs that are not covered by insurance,” said Jason Kempenski, president of Mid-coast Smackdown nonprofit.

This year the organization has set a goal to raise $140,000 in a commitment to financially support five kiddos either battling or overcoming their battle with cancer.

The kiddos attending this year's event, that the organization has had the chance of helping, will have the opportunity to ring a bell of celebration.

”We’ve all been affected by cancer in one way or another," said Mariah Alverado, Sam Houston Elementary art teacher. "Unfortunately, a lot of our kids here from Sam Houston have been affected by it personally or just like in family friends.”

There were nine pieces submitted individually that were judged by a panel. All students were recognized for their efforts but the winning class geared their artistic message toward community and bringing people together.

Charlie is also a Sam Houston student and his classmates are now supporting his journey as he celebrates the end of his fight with cancer.

“They have been supportive of us ever since we attended the Mid-Coast Smackdown last year, and we’re excited to attend it this year, and Charlie gets to ring the bell this year,” said Van Eman.

The winning art piece will be auctioned off on May 14 during the fifth annual Mid-Coast Smackdown.