When Jaylah Martinez has a paintbrush in hand, it’s like a conduit between the emotions inside Jaylah and the canvas. Like many teens, the budding artist has voiced big dreams for her paintings and art. In Jaylah’s case, she envisions them displayed in a modern art gallery in Los Angeles.
Unlike most teens, however, Jaylah faces struggles with her health. The high school honors student from San Antonio, Texas, is battling a rare and aggressive form of cancer. Last August, she was diagnosed with stage IV Renal Medullary Carcinoma. Prior to her diagnosis, Jaylah was an active teen who had taken on leadership roles, from serving as Teen Ambassador for the city of San Antonio, to designing and creating public art projects for Blue Star Contemporary's MOSAIC Student Artist Program.
Sadly, because of Jaylah’s health issues, she’s been forced to step aside from her extracurricular activities, which made the special surprise that Jaylah received all the more inspiring and uplifting.
In December, Jaylah learned her dream as an artist, to show her work in LA, was about to come true. Make-A-Wish(R) Central and South Texas hosted a special wish unveiling for Jaylah at North Park Subaru Dominion, which had set aside part of their showroom for a community celebration of Jaylah and an exhibit of her paintings during the annual Subaru Share the Love(R) Event.
Jaylah greeted and hugged friends, family and local art lovers, and took time to describe the themes and inspiration running through her colorful paintings: Jaylah’s spiritual connection to God, celebrating life on Earth, and the comfort of familial love. Wearing bold silver earrings and a brilliant smile on Jaylah’s face, she looked every bit the part of an up and coming artist.
“It feels good to know there are so many people in my life who are just supporting me no matter what,” said Jaylah. “And I’m very grateful for these people. Because they’ve helped me. A lot.”
Jaylah’s upcoming LA exhibit will be held in January 2019. Despite Jaylah’s diagnosis, the high school junior is looking ahead to other life ambitions. Jaylah wants to attend college, major in biochemistry and become a research scientist who works to find a cure for cancer.
Jaylah’s art show was also an opportunity to help other kids in her community who are facing a critical illness, so they could have their wishes come true, too. The exhibit was held in conjunction with the Pack the Outback Toy Drive, where families were encouraged to bring new, unwrapped toys to the North Park Subaru Dominion to fill a new Subaru Outback in support of Make-A-Wish Central and South Texas.
Kathrin Brewer, Make-A-Wish chapter president, said they were thrilled to have the support and partnership of the dealership. The heart of the matter is, she says, the wishes granted are more than “a nice experience.”
“Wishes have the power to transform lives by providing hope and the ability to experience life beyond illness,” Brewer said.
To learn more about how you can help grant more wishes to children who are faced with a critical illness, visit www.wish.org.