Group helps sick kids pursue their dreams

December 2, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Eleven-year-old Martin Nieto may just become a professional photographer someday thanks to CoachArt, a local nonprofit organization about to celebrate its 10-year anniversary helping children with chronic and life threatening diseases pursue their dreams. "I love to say CoachArt is an organization that's a lot of organizations on steroids, but basically what we do for our kids is give them living wishes," said Thyonne Gordon, executive director of CoachArt.

"We ask them to dream what they want to be, do, or wish for and they do that and they do it big. They say, 'I want to learn archery, I want to learn ballet, I want to learn tap, I want to learn soccer or I want to learn how to play the guitar.' And then we find them a mentor to do just that."

Professional documentary portrait photographer Trish Reda is Martin's mentor. For 12 weeks she will teach him as much as she can about her trade.

The lessons are a welcome distraction for Martin who's lived with serious health challenges all his life and restricted from taking part in sports.

"I have a heart problem, and if I run too much, my heart starts beating fast and I get tired and I start seeing blurry all over the place," said Martin.

The fifth grader looks forward to his meetings with Reda every Wednesday, for the photography and the friendship.

"We always goof off when she's here," said Martin.

"He's just great. He's just a charming, happy, sweet kid and really, really enthusiastic and excited," Reda said of her student. "It feels good, definitely feels good. We all need to sort of get out of our own space and give a little."

If you're interested in getting involved in the program, CoachArt is always looking for volunteers. To donate, volunteer or just get more information about the organization, log onto CoachArt's website at http://www.coachart.org.


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