“In the middle, there’s a heart, and in the middle of the heart, there’s a child,” says nine-year-old Moira Hearn about her t-shirt art.
Surrounding the heart and the child are stick figures which represent all the doctors and nurses and family and friends who are helping the child through illness or injury. Next to those figures are dots which represent other children going through the same things, to show they’re not alone, explains Moira’s mother, Valerie Beichner.
Moira’s paintings are designed not to hang on a wall but rather printed on t-shirts for “Moira’s Mission,” her project to raise money for the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation’s Free Care Fund. Many in the Pittsburgh area contribute to Children’s Hospital fundraising efforts each year but at the age of nine, Moira is a bit unusual.
“When Moira first came to us with the idea of selling t-shirts to help kids in the hospital, we were just kind of, ‘Oh, honey, that’s a sweet idea,” Beichner says. “But she kept asking and asking. So last year, my husband Chris, her stepfather, started looking seriously into setting up a nonprofit on her behalf to bring this to fruition.” The Beichners first approached Children’s Hospital last August, and the campaign officially launched in early March.
Moira’s shirts will get long-distance exposure when Valerie and Chris wear them on a 335-mile run. “We knew Moira’s idea of selling t-shirts was wonderful, but we wanted to do something a little more to raise awareness of what she’s doing.”
The couple plans to run the Great Allegheny Passage from Washington, DC to Pittsburgh. Valerie admits that people look at them “like we have three heads,” especially since they’ve only been running since 2014. To prepare, they have been building up their distance and plan to run the Pittsburgh Marathon in May. Their goal is to begin their Great Allegheny Passage run June 22, share the running between them (13 miles per day), build in a couple of rest days, and end the journey on July 4th at Point State Park.
Moira’s Mission of raising money to helps kid in need at Children’s Hospital has evolved into her mom’s mission of using the experience as learning and inspiration for her children. She has a blended family, she explains, with Moira from her first marriage; Carter, who is Chris’ son from a previous marriage; and two children they’ve had together, Lawson and Lydia. “They all want to get involved, which is beautiful,” she says. “It’s not just about raising money, or running. It’s about getting our kids to understand the power they have to make great positive change in the world if they dig in and are really determined.”
Moira, who will turn 10 in June, says she may want to work in a hospital one day. For now, she enjoys the artistic side of what she’s doing, and following through on her original goal—raising money for kids in Children’s Hospital. “I really like crafts and painting, especially sunsets and flowers,” she says. “But my favorite part is knowing that I’m helping other kids while doing something I like.”
To purchase a Moira’s Mission t-shirt or to make a donation, visit Moira’s page on the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation website. You can also learn more about the Beichner family run, and other Moira’s Mission news, on their blog.