Throughout his two-year battle against cancer, Benjamin Cote never gave up hope.
Several times during his ordeal, the Overland Park boy seemed he’d even conquered the disease. But when the cancer returned, his strong affection for animals never wavered. He even had big dreams of becoming a veterinarian one day.
That day was never to come. On Sept. 7, 2007, Ben died as he held the hands of his parents.
He was 8 years old.
To honor his great love of animals, Ben’s family created a special fund to raise money for animal health and welfare causes. The family also decided to host an art show as a tribute to the boy’s birthday. His friends and family members produced paintings with a “Ben” theme. At the show, the artists presented their paintings and told the stories behind them—an uplifting experience for all involved.
On Friday night, “Ben’s Fund” volunteers will partner with local animal welfare organization Great Plains SPCA for the first annual Art from the Heart. This silent auction of local children’s artwork—many produced by friends of the Cotes—will serve as both a fundraiser for the organization and a way to honor Ben.
The night also features a live auction. The “items” available include interning at Great Plains SPCA and riding to school with NASCAR driver Scott Lagasse Jr. Also included is “Ben’s Owl,” an original painting done by Ben during the last year of his life.
“At the time, we had a great horned owl who made nightly visits to our backyard,” said Ben’s mother, Megan Cote. “When we would hear him hoot, [Ben] would go to the bedroom window and watch him until he would inevitably fly away.”
Friday’s event begins at 7 p.m. at Ironwoods Lodge (14701 Mission Road, Leawood). Wine and hors d’oeuvres will be served. Tickets are available online through Wednesday; thereafter, contact Melissa Reed at 913-742-7336 to purchase tickets.