MINNEAPOLIS - When Marsha Ovitz is around, rock and roll takes on a new meaning. That's because Marsha brings her love of the arts to kids who are undergoing cancer treatments.
Marsha started a program called Breanna's Gift, named after her 3-year-old granddaughter who lost her battle with a cancerous brain tumor. Breanna loved to dance.
"I also have a background in dance so when I'd come to visit she'd always want to see my dance that I was learning in class, so I would dance for her and she would say, 'again,'" explained Marsha.
Now other children are saying "again" as Breanna's Gift brings dance, music, visual arts and theater to the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital, Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota and the Ronald McDonald House Charities Upper Midwest.
Betz Ulrich, who volunteers to share her music, nominated Marsha for the Eleven Who Care award.
"I think she brings a lot of compassion and joy, and just the opportunity to have fun when they're not feeling so well," described Betz.
And when the kids can't come to a playroom, the music comes to them.
"The idea was to create a time where the children would not be thinking about the IVs or the tests or the chemotherapy," said Marsha.
On a day in mid-February, we found Marsha spreading cheer at Ronald McDonald House, in Minneapolis. She led a group of children creating puppets and then a show.
Marsha cherishes her special time with the kids.
"What I find is the smiles that we get from the children. Those are special and those are memories of the joyful, spirited child that she was," said Marsha.
Lauren Rasmussen, Program Team Administrative Assistant at Ronald McDonald House Charities Upper Midwest, also credits Marsha for giving kids a creative place to shine.
"You know in the house they have a lot of stressful things in their life right now; and they get the opportunity to come down and have fun and get messy and make a project and then show it off to their parents and family," explained Lauren.
"Even for the briefest moments, they can be doing something like everybody else," added Marsha. "Every once and a while you sit back and say, you were able to do something that made a difference for them and, it's a way of giving back and moving forward from the loss that you had."
(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)