Why I Give: Dan’s Story

By: Emily Najera

October 10, 2023

Painting of Dan and his son

In the fall of 2020, Dan's world was suddenly shaken when he received a distressing call: his son, Jeremy, was admitted to Renown with complications from spinal meningitis. Without a second thought, Dan rushed from Southern California to be by Jeremy's side.

For an agonizing 10 days, Dan remained in the ICU. He was overwhelmed with worry and helplessness as Jeremy fought for his life on a ventilator. During this time, Dan, an esteemed artist and professor, found comfort in the collection of artworks adorning the walls at Renown.

With more than 2,000 pieces of original art, Renown has meticulously curated hospital rooms, hallways and various spaces to support those in need. Dan, who talks about art's magic every day as a professor, experienced its power in a new light.

Nurturing Healing

From the captivating paintings and intricate sculptures to Fianna’s Healing Garden, the hospital is a haven for healing through art. "It was wonderfully expansive and integrated," said Dan, “the art wasn't just limited to visuals but seamlessly integrated into the care of patients and their families.”

In those delicate brush strokes and vibrant colors, Dan found more than just art; he found consolation and a reminder of the transformative power that art holds, offering a comforting embrace.

“For some people, art is like background music, easily missed and not given much attention. Yet, as an artist, and as a parent, navigating crisis within the halls of Renown, these genuine artworks went beyond mere background. They called out to me, supporting me when I needed it most,” Dan said.

A Canvas of Comfort

Ten days in the ICU turned into one month, and then two. Jeremy's path to recovery took an unexpected turn when he experienced a seizure, further complicating his healing process. Unfortunately, two months after being admitted to Renown, Jeremy tragically passed away.

Dan returned to California, beginning the painful process of grieving and healing. It was a period of reflection, seeking solace in memories of his son and finding strength in his art. As time passed, a powerful idea began to take shape – an idea that would turn tragedy into a lasting tribute.

Driven by the transformative power of art, Dan made a heartfelt decision. He chose to honor Jeremy's memory by donating four of his own paintings to Renown.

Research backs what we often feel: art can help us heal. From paintings to sculptures, creativity in hospital settings isn't just about aesthetics. It's been proven to reduce stress, lift spirits, and create an environment that promotes healing.

Jeremy’s Legacy Lives On

Jeremy's memory now lives on through his dad’s paintings, offering comfort and inspiration to others facing similar uncertainties within the hospital walls. “The art becomes a conduit for healing, a bridge connecting the depths of grief to the light of hope,” said Dan, underlining how the paintings echo Jeremy's resilient spirit and the hope that endures even in the face of loss.

We extend our deepest gratitude to Dan for allowing us to glimpse into his journey, and for his invaluable contribution to Renown. His actions serve as an inspiration, reinforcing the belief in the beauty of art to heal and connect us all. Thank you, Dan, for your donation and for making a lasting difference.

Dan’s artwork is located on the first floor of Renown Regional, overlooking Fianna’s Healing Garden.

How You Can Help Make a Difference

Join us in supporting Healing Arts at Renown by making a donation today. Your generosity will help us continue to curate and integrate art into hospital spaces, creating a haven for healing and hope. Join the Good Fight! 

Renown Health Foundation's Why I Give series recognizes donors, volunteers, corporations, foundations, and others who provide philanthropic support to Renown. We are fortunate to have generous donors whose funding helps support and expand our efforts to meet the growing needs of the patients we serve. To learn more about how you can support Renown, please email foundation@renown.org, call 775-982-5545 or visit renown.org/donate.