Wednesday, 28 Sep 2022

Splashes of Hope uses art to brighten Long Island burn units, treatment centers and more

Splashes of Hope uses art to brighten Long Island burn units, treatment centers and more

KINGS PARK (Writer)- Brain trauma can be life-changing, but at one rehab center in Suffolk County, something special is creating hope.

Ann-Marie Chang wiped away tears as she and her husband, Tom, watched their son, Ethan, who has special needs, create magic.

"Joy and pride. He's gone through a lot of stuff in his life," Ann-Marie Chang told CBS2's Jennifer McLogan.

Ethan is helping others despite his medical setbacks.

"When we found out he had a form of lipodystrophy when he was young, it was really tough. We didn't know where it was going to go," Tom Chang said.

That is when volunteers with brushes and paints came into the Changs' Long Island home.

"After Ethan got a Make-A-Wish grant, we met Splashes of Hope, and they painted a mural for his bedroom," Tom Chang said.

"As artists, it's our obligation to do something help other people," Splashes of Hope founder Heather Brugee said.

Brugee and her husband, Jimmy Knapp, founded Splashes of Hope. They and dozens of volunteers, like Ethan, are changing lives.

Quogue homeowner Judy McDermott says her husband Jim's eyes light up watching the mural going up inside the brain trauma rehab center at St. Johnland Nursing Center in Kings Park.

"Happy, happy emotions," she said.

Jim, a fit outdoorsman and active grandfather, fell down steps and their lives changed in an instant. They've bonded with the Chang family as Ethan has helped fundraise to make the project possible.

"Bake sales, lemonade sales, raffles," Ethan said.

"That goes a long long way. We're very lucky to be the facility chosen," St. Johnland administrator Nicolas Destinville said.

For 25 years, the nonprofit has splashed walls of burn units, treatment centers and special needs camps, thanks to individual and foundation donors and the volunteers.

"I feel like it shows that if other people can try, they can pretty much do anything," Ethan said.

"Fills my heart knowing that he goes through struggles and that doesn't stop him," Ann-Marie Chang said.

"I've been blessed to experience the honor to paint such a mural on here that can give them some hope," Knapp said.

"They help me a lot through this mission," Ethan Chang said.

A mission to help others, regardless of ability.

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