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Stretched Limo Turned Art Project Supports Oregon Charities

Posted on June 5, 2013

Lucky Limousine and Town Car Service's painted limo raises money for local charities.
Lucky Limousine and Town Car Service's painted limo raises money for local charities.

PORTLAND, Oregon — A brilliant suggestion by a 13-year-old artist and cancer survivor spurred an artistically inclined humanitarian to team up with Lucky Limousine and Town Car Service, of Portland and bring to life the colorful charity-on-wheels you see to the left.

The story starts with Frank Etxaniz, a Portland humanitarian known for mixing art and education. In 2006, Etxaniz founded Children’s Healing Art Project (CHAP), a nonprofit that uses art to help ease the healing process for critically ill, chronically ill and disabled children and their loved ones.

Satisfied with the progress CHAP had made, in 2012 Etxaniz began a yearlong tour around Oregon to meet and talk with the families he had worked with in Portland hospitals during the past decade. In Baker City, 300 miles Southeast of Portland, he encountered one of the children from the CHAP program. Etxaniz had not seen 13-year-old Isabella since she had gone into remission, returned home, and grown her hair back.

Isabella immediately asked, “Where is your painted car?” referring to Frank’s personal car, which he had allowed hundreds of Portland children to paint. That car had been put out to pasture, Etxaniz says. “I told Isabella that we could get something larger, maybe a school bus to paint. She gave me a smirky disappointing look and said, ‘We don’t want a school bus…we want a limo!’”

417 Baker City students paint Lucky Limousine's strech limo which will raise money for local charities.
417 Baker City students paint Lucky Limousine's strech limo which will raise money for local charities.

Etxaniz borrowed Isabella’s idea and incorporated it into his latest nonprofit startup, Kids-Health Education Arts Laboratory (Kids-HEAL), which deliver an interactive arts and healthcare education program directly to Oregon and Southwest Washington schools. But before Etxaniz could let loose a bunch of kids to paint a limo, he first needed to locate a canvas. 

Fortunately, through various Portland-area charity projects, Etxaniz knew Heather Killough, owner of Lucky Limousine. Killough, also a founding donor for CHAP and Kids-HEAL, offered up one of the company’s stretched Town Cars.

Lucky Limousine’s chief operations officer, Al Jochim, credits Killough’s charitable approach to business for getting the project under way. “It was a great idea by Frank,” Jochim says. “And our owner is unbelievably gracious. I think it’s just a fun deal. If we can get kids that are not feeling well to have an extra special time, that’s real important to us.”

<p>Four

On April 18-19, 417 Baker City school students turned a pristine stretch limo into a rainbow-colored charity vehicle, and a ride to the Baker High School prom was auctioned off to raise money for the Kids-HEAL project. That weekend, four lucky high school students rode to their prom in what’s likely the most vibrantly painted limo in Oregon.

The mobile work of art has now returned to the Lucky Limousine fleet where it will continue to raise money for KIDS-HEAL and another nonprofit Killough supports, New Avenues for Youth, which serves homeless and at-risk youth in Portland.  

Lucky Limousine, Etxaniz, and Kids-HEAL invite other limo companies around the world to transform the older cars in their fleets into nonprofit-mobiles that can bring the healing power of art and funding to worthy causes in their communities. Contact Etxaniz ([email protected]) and Jochim ([email protected]) for more information.

—    Denis Wilson, LCT East Coast Editor

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