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For Good

13-year-old brain cancer survivor paints gratitude guitar for guitarmania


Whereas some kids bond with their dads over football or baseball, Jacob Friedman and his dad have always bonded over oldies music stars like Petula Clark and Dean Martin and old movies starring Tim Conway.

Five years ago, Friedman suddenly had blurry vision and he couldn't get out of bed. He was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The nine-year-old listened to Clark's "Downtown" to comfort him as he traveled from his home in Parma to Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital in University Circle.

By a stroke of luck, Friedman later ran into Petula Clark while vacationing with his family at Disney World during a trip that was sponsored by the Make-a-Wish Foundation. He asked for her autograph and they talked for over an hour. Clark was so taken with the young boy's story that she stayed in contact with him.

Figuring that he had nothing to lose, Friedman also emailed Tim Conway through his website. They soon struck up a relationship that continues to this day. Clark, Conway and some of Friedman's other film and music heroes have encouraged him to stay hopeful about his recovery and pursue his dream of becoming an artist.

"It's really meant a lot to me to have them a part of my life," says Friedman.

Now, Friedman has achieved another one of his longtime dreams. The 13-year-old has painted a "gratitude guitar" as part of Guitarmania, an event that places large, colorfully painted guitars around Cleveland to benefit United Way and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's education programs. The guitar features a rendering of Petula Clark and Tim Conway, and will soon be revealed to them as a surprise.

"Jacob thought it would be a great opportunity to say thank you in a really big way," says Steve Friedman, Jacob's father. "He wanted it to be a surprise."

The front of the guitar contains the words "laughter and music are the best medicine" and the guitar also features an image of Cleveland's skyline.

The Guitarmania kickoff takes place on Friday, May 25th at the Rock Hall.


Source: Jacob Friedman, Steve Friedman
Writer: Lee Chilcote
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