Having lost her husband, Johnny, to a brain tumor, Ginger Mercer felt strongly about supporting an organization dedicated to brain cancer research. In 2000, the Johnny Mercer Foundation found such an organization in Judi Kaufman’s Art of The Brain.
Kaufman, founder and CEO of Grand Chocolate Pizza Company, lost her ability to perform critical business functions after her first brain tumor in 1997. She decided to start an organization that could help raise public awareness about brain cancer, spotlight the strength and courage of brain cancer patients, and help raise money for research in order to find a cure. In researching the nature of her new organization, Judi learned from her neuro-oncologist at UCLA that art and the creative impulse, in its various forms, made the difference between life or death for his brain cancer patients.
The concept for Art of the Brain was consequently born in 1997.
Art of the Brain helps to raise hope for brain cancer patients via teaching them that creativity and the creative process, for artists and non-artists alike, can be a path to navigate life, re-claim their self-esteem and create a new destiny. While brain cancer may effect certain functions and abilities, it does not sap brain cancer survivors of their creativity. The organization also encourages all creative pursuits — drawing, painting, writing, cooking, photography, fashion design, collaging, sculpting, singing, all creative avenues.
The Johnny Mercer Foundation sponsors the Johnny Mercer Foundation Research Award to support and recognize medical scientists engaged in promising brain cancer research. It is presented at the annual Art of the Brain gala in Los Angeles.
The Foundation also supports Art of the Brain’s patient-focused activities, such as the Brain Buddies network, which helps connect volunteer “illness mentors” with patients in need of a critical support system.
By supporting both brain cancer research and the Art of the Brain programs that allow patients and their families to survive the many challenges of their brain cancer journey, The Johnny Mercer Foundation has had a big impact on the brain cancer patients that Art of the Brain serves.