Jeff Hanson is a legally blind artist who taught himself to paint while undergoing chemotherapy as a child. His artwork has now raised millions for charity. Hanson credits his church family at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection with helping him see past his disability and realize he had a gift that could help others. "Everyone who hears Jeff's story, finds their own hearts changed," says Hanson's pastor, the Rev. Adam Hamilton.
(File footage) Auctioneer: "I have sold it to the million dollar mark. How many people in here can say they've donated a million dollars to charity by the time they're 20?"
Jeff Hanson is an artist and philanthropist whose paintings hang in the homes of celebrities like Elton John, Patrick Dempsey, and Billy Joel. His work has raised over three million dollars for charity, and he's only 24. Even more impressive? He is legally blind.
Hal Hanson, Jeffrey's father: "Jeffrey was born with a genetic condition, Neurofibromatosis, that's characterized by short stature, learning disabilities, tumors can develop anywhere throughout your body in your nervous system."
At the age of six, Hanson developed a tumor on his optic nerve that was causing him to go blind.
Julie Hanson, Jeffrey's mother: "In the midst of chemotherapy and radiation, he started painting."
Jeff Hanson: "It was more so fun just to do that, to have people come over and paint with me and just talk."
As Hanson and his parents realized he had a gift, they also leaned on their church family at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas. Members helped show Jeff the importance of giving back, simply by being there for him in his time of need.
July Hanson: "They are our family. They have lifted us up in the bad times and they have celebrated us in the good times."
Jeff Hanson: "I felt like after chemotherapy and radiation I needed to give back. My fundraising began at a glorified lemonade stand at the foot of our driveway which in one summer raised $15,000."
With the support of his parents and his church, Hanson kept at it and his paintings now sell between $20 and $100,000 apiece at auction.
(File footage) Auctioneer: "$100,000." "Yay."
Julie Hanson: "No art training, the kid who can't see the stars, the kid who can't ride his bike…"
Hal Hanson: "We consider this a God thing. No one in the medical world was promising any happy ending to this story. Over the past 10 years we've gone from Make-A-Wish to a world-renowned painter generating three million dollars for charity."
Jeff Hanson: "My core belief is every act of kindness helps create kinder communities, more compassionate nations, and a better world for all, even one painting at a time."
Editor's note: Jeffrey Hanson (1993-2020) passed away in December of 2020. A memorial service was held at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, KS.
This video was first posted on January 2, 2018.