Happy Birthday, Thea!
December 6, 2016, is a very special day in a very special year. 33 years ago on this day, my daughter Thea Kay came into this world, bringing love, light and wisdom into our lives and starting a chain of inspiration that would help us change thousands of lives for years to come. Just a few weeks ago, we celebrated another big birthday: the 15th anniversary of the founding of the Thea Foundation. On November 5, 2001, my wife, Linda, and I formed our grassroots effort to make the arts accessible to all Arkansas children, so that they may have the fulfilling, empowering opportunity Thea had, what we like to call a "Thea experience."
Through Thea, we learned that the arts, from music to poetry, painting to dance, have the ability to open enormous doors for young people. Through the arts, young people find confidence, learn to understand the world in ways they otherwise wouldn't, learn compassion and empathy, improve their overall wellbeing, and develop skills that can carry them through a successful life. Over 15 years, we've seen the ripple effect of our efforts spread to hundreds of thousands of young lives. We've been able to help hundreds of Arkansas students go to college with $2 million in scholarships; we've awarded more than $1.5 million in creative materials to schools all across the state; we've implemented and augmented art and music programs within and outside of schools; and cultivated a love for the arts in our state by supporting artists and spreading our mission.
All of this change wouldn't have happened without the support of our community. Whether it was donating what you could when you could, encouraging a child to register for our scholarship competitions, telling a teacher about our Thea's Art Closet program, or simply encouraging a young person in your life to pursue an art form, you laid a brick in our foundation. I want to sincerely thank you on this very special day of this very special year. And if you have yet to get involved at the Thea Foundation, I encourage you to join our mission in one of the aforementioned ways. It's only together that we can effect real, powerful change for young people in Arkansas right now and for future generations.