Minnesota artist Lynda Tysver is not letting COVID-19 get in the way of her creativity or volunteering. For over 25 years, Tysver has been a huge supporter of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. It all started when Tysver first heard about the work St. Jude does on a K102 Radiothon. Inspired by the stories of healing and support, she volunteered at the Radiothon the following year and has since fallen in love with St. Jude and the children there. She became a St. Jude Hero Ambassador in 2016, pledging to raise certain amounts of money every year by running marathons and half marathons on behalf of the organization.
In years past, Tysver has put her generosity to work by dressing up as a clown, painting the faces of children, and spreading joy everywhere she could, including in hospitals and at St. Jude events, such as the Give Thanks Walk. Tysver never charges for her work done at St. Jude events, and she donates any tips she receives to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
However, since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, she hasn’t been able to visit hospitals or paint the faces of children. “It’s been really hard living alone,” says Tysver. “I miss sharing those smiles and creating smiles.”
Tysver was brainstorming how she could continue to spread positivity and help St. Jude when her friend suggested that she start painting windows instead of faces. Inspired by the idea, Tysver decided to paint a large St. Jude logo on her window. This was nearly two months ago, but the logo is still in pristine condition. Not long afterwards, someone asked her to do a painting for her son’s birthday, so she went to paint a Star Wars picture on their window, which she posted on her social media. She hasn’t slowed down since then, painting encouraging messages and pictures on the windows of schools, nursing homes, and houses around the state—all for free.
With her creations, Tysver says, “I just want to put a smile on someone’s face, to take a moment of time away from their stress, their worries, their struggles.”
In lieu of payment, Tysver says awareness of St. Jude is enough: “I hope they ask where [the painting] came from and get directed to me. If it brings awareness or one donation to one person, I did my job.”
Tysver encourages people to think of St. Jude in this time. In her own words: “Cancer doesn’t stop because COVID-19 hits.” Four Minnesota events that benefit St. Jude Hospital were canceled this year, but there are still digital campaigns. Tysver is also still planning to run half marathons in Chicago and Las Vegas, with a personal goal of raising $15,000 as a St. Jude Hero.
Eventually, her dream is to paint the face of every child in St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, and currently she’s brainstorming creative ways to paint kids’ faces from a safe distance. For now, Lynda’s colorful and inspirational window paintings will have to do. But whether she is painting faces or windows, Tysver’s goal is always the same—to bring color and happiness to those in need of a smile.