Zebra Alphabet paintings raise money, awareness about rare diseases

Proceeds benefit Kennedy Krieger

Anthony Byrd knew something wasn't right the moment his son Xavier was born.

"The doctors got quiet. They took him to the heat lamp and I could see something was wrong in his face," Byrd said.

Two and a half years later and countless tests, doctors at Johns Hopkins finally had a diagnosis: Schinzel-Giedion syndrome. Its a rare, neurological disorder. Xavier couldn't speak and couldn't move. Byrd said there are only about 50 recorded cases.

"When we found out, we asked the doctors to tell us everything about it so that we could help Xavier," Byrd said.

The Byrds leaned on Kennedy Krieger and enrolled Xavier in their daycare program. The non-profit not only focuses on caring for sick and disabled children, they also do research on rare diseases. But funding isn't always easy to come by.

"Its very hard to fundraise for rare diseases because they only touch so many families," said Dara Schnee, the director of Major Gifts at Kennedy Krieger.

To help raise more money, Kennedy Krieger is selling artwork called "The Zebra Alphabet" at Monument Sotheby's International Realty in Roland Park.

Aditi Kantipuly created the art, which is made up of 26 paintings that represent 26 rare diseases. They range from disorders with the eyes to neurological problems. Each painting is for sale, either individually or as a set.

"This is helping us connect and educate people about how it is important," said Schnee.

Across the room, there's another art sale happening, also benefiting Kennedy Krieger. The art was created by students at the institute's high school. The proceeds will benefit the school's programs.

"I think they really enjoy being able to express themselves in different ways that they might not be able to in other classes," said Anna Livingston, the art teacher at the Kennedy Krieger high school.

Sadly, Xavier passed away in January of this year at the age of seven and a half. There's not a day that goes by that Anthony Byrd doesn't think about his son. He hopes Xavier's life, like the Zebra Alphabet, will make a difference for other families like his.

"That would be great for us to think that a part of his life was able to help somebody else's life," he said.

The artwork will be on sale until November 13. Click here to see pricing.

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