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Our 2023 Holiday Card Cover: MadebyMouth

Rebecca Koltun's mouth-painted holiday card cover features visible brush strokes on a blue, white, and silver snowy mountain scene with black and blue mountains visible in the distance. A graphic at the upper right reads Made by Mouth by Rebecca Koltun with a digital image of Rebecca mouth-painting.

The cover art for our 2023 holiday card is by Rebecca Koltun, a 24-year-old whose community has been fundraising with Help Hope Live since a March 2021 skiing accident left Rebecca with paralysis from the neck down.

Rebecca smiles as she holds one of her mouth-painted pieces in her right hand. The piece is a scene of mountains reflecting into water under the light of the moon in shades of white, silver, deep blue, and light blue. Seated in her black power chair with a mouth stick for mobility and a patch at her neck for a trach, Rebecca has light skin, gold hoop earrings, light eyes, a black cap, and her blonde-brown hair pulled back. She wears a sleeveless light pink blouse with gray overalls overtop.

During these first two years of recovery, Rebecca has used her humor, intelligence, and creativity to pursue new pathways of self-expression and awareness.  

A piece of art made by Rebecca Koltun with a straw blowing technique features artistically arranged paint blobs in multiple eye-catching shades of blue-green, yellow-green, dark red, orange, purple, and blue in four lines with a drip at the top and bottom.

“For me, getting through the day is often through the art of distraction,” explained Rebecca. Over time, that desire for constant activity morphed into a consistent creative outlet that brings joy and positivity into the lives of others. 

A Rebecca Koltun mouth-painted piece, circular on a small easel covered in paint splatters. The piece is a sunrise or sunset over water featuring calming shades of pink, orange, and yellow.

Rebecca began mouth-painting while receiving recreational therapy as part of inpatient rehabilitation. She used each color sequence and painting theme to express a different emotion that she had experienced during her SCI recovery journey. 

A screenshot of a vertical video of Rebecca mouth-painting a vivid sunrise or sunset scene in orange, red, and yellow. She wears a canvas piece to prevent splatters that has lots of colorful paint on it, and she has light skin and blonde-brown hair pulled back.

Today, she successfully sells her artwork through in-person fundraisers and online through her MadebyMouth Etsy shop 

Two mouth-painted artworks by Rebecca Koltun at the auction table for Live It Up! 2023. They are beach scenes at sunset or sunrise with a pink-purple sky and bright blue water next to brown sand.

Through mouth-painting, social media, and other creative avenues, Rebecca draws friends, community members, and even strangers deeper into her world and illuminates the reality of life with quadriplegia—with its struggles, breakthroughs, absurdity, humor, and everything else.  

Fundraising remains a critical part of her journey with Rebecca’s SCI-related costs exceeding $200,000 per year out-of-pocket. As her parents explained, “If we did not have an additional source of funding, Rebecca may not have been able to live outside of a hospital.” 

Rebecca with her family outdoors on a deck with fall leaves visible in the yard behind them. Seated in her black power chair, Rebecca has light skin, shoulder-length brown and blonde hair, a turtleneck graphic print tan and cream sweater, and jeans. Behind her stand her brother with light skin, a collared gray shirt, khaki pants and a belt with light skin and short brown hair. Her father, with short gray hair, sunglasses, and a pink button-up shirt. Her mom, with light skin, short sandy brown hair, and a vivid graphic print abstract flower long-sleeved shirt. Written by Emily Progin