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The Ellen Project Lifts Spirits at St. Marys

Created: 02/13/2014 6:33 PM KAALtv.com
By: Jenna Lohse

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- Children getting treatment at Mayo Clinic had a little something to brighten their day. Some painting and music were all part of a unique program that stops at hospitals across the nation.

The day started with a little paint. Paint that would transform this piano into a masterpiece of imagination.

"I'd say it looks better,” said Saint Marys patient, Zander Duellman.

For patients like Zander Duellman, a stay at Mayo Clinic Hospital Saint Marys campus doesn't sound all that exciting. "I expected that I would lay in a bed and wait for my family to come,” said Duellman.

But Thursday took an unexpected turn. The Ellen Project came to Rochester, with the hope of inspiring these kids to believe in themselves.

"They need more than ever, to feel good about themselves and to have hope and inspiration and we feel the arts are an incredibly powerful tool,” said Newell Hill, Executive Director of Keys 4/4 Kids.

The idea for The Ellen Project stems from a little girl in the Twins Cities. A girl named Ellen, who's sister was diagnosed with leukemia. Ellen's idea to bring a piano into her sisters hospital room has led to a nationwide inspiration.

"It's nice to have something to come and kind of get your mind off everything you're going to be having to do to manage your disease,” said Zander’s mom, Jill Duellman.

They’re using art to give these kids a chance to forget their struggle in life. "Really though the best part for me is when we start performing the music for the kids,” said Hill.

In no time, their artwork turns into music. For those kids who were too sick to make it Thursday, there no worries. The Ellen Project quickly turns into music on wheels. "We get to see the eyes of those kids light up,” said Hill.

Giving young patients a chance to think outside hospital walls and stretch their imagination. The Ellen Project has already visited 10 hospitals on their tour of bringing the arts to 88 hospitals across the country.