GuitarMania kicks off at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 14-year-old cancer survivor makes art debut

CLEVELAND - The United Way of Cleveland and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum kicked off the GuitarMania campaign benefiting both organizations.

GuitarMania is the largest public art project in the United States, and has raised $2 million to benefit United Way of Cleveland and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's and Museum's education programs.

The guitars will remain on display on the city streets of Cleveland through Labor Day weekend and will return to the Rock Hall for six weeks leading up the the GuitarMania gala auction Saturday, Oct. 20, 2012.

Fourteen-year-old brain cancer survivor Jacob Friedman was one of the artists whose work will be on display. Jacob saw an advertisement for GuitarMania artists and decided to apply. With his dad's permission, he set out on the journey of fulfilling his dream of becoming an artist.

"At first, I was afraid to touch the guitar. I didn't want to like screw up or break anything. I was so nervous, even like the first paint stroke my hands were shaking," said Jacob.

When Jacob was 9, he was diagnosed with brain cancer. He went through surgery and radiation treatment. Only small signs are reminders that Jacob was once battling for his life.

He learned early how to be resilient. During his battle two of his favorite artists, Tim Conway and Petula Clark, had become good friends and inspirations.

"Tim Conway he helped me laugh through my time of going through cancer and Petula's music that helped me get through treatments that I had to go through," he said.

Now five years later, Jacob has decided to thank the artists by immortalizing them on his GuitarMania guitar entry.

He got a little help from locally-known artist, Anna Arnold, who helped him finally take the plunge into artistry.

"He has this vibrant spirit, this spirit that just like all of the things that he's been through he's just like, 'Let's just keep going,'" Arnold said.

For Jacob's father, Steven Friedman, this day was one for the books. He said kids like Jacob have given him hope.

"They prove that no matter how bad today is they'll get through and deal with tomorrow as it comes. And they prove it.. He's proven it for five years," said Friedman.

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