Rebecca Bishop displays her winning painting.
Rebecca shows off some of her polar bear collection.
|by Patricia Knoell, Times Reporter
Rebecca Bishop loves polar bears. She also loves to create
artwork. It's a small wonder, then, that a combination of these two interests would net
the 14-year old ninth-grader at Lakeridge Junior High first place in a city-wide junior
high art contest.
"I've loved polar bears since my mom inspired me to choose them as
a subject for a report I was supposed to write on animals when I was in second
grade," Rebecca said. "After I wrote the report, I became fascinated with them
and now I collect them.
"As for art, that started when I was in seventh grade and we had a
required art course. We all had to draw a picture of these weird, ugly objects. I loved
it! I kept on taking art and now I'm in studio art and doing all sorts of things, from
sculpture to painting to scratch board."
Rebecca's award winning painting was done in oil pencil, one or her
favorite mediums (along with water color and scratch board).
Her painting won the blue ribbon at the SCERA Art Show for Junior High
Students in Orem, getting particularly high marks in creativity and emotion. Although the
painting was of polar bears, Rebecca's art teacher, Miss Lee, said that Rebecca told her
that she and her father were represented in the picture.
"She's a special little girl," her father, Robert, said.
"She's a 4.0 student, she loves to read and write as well as paint.
"Her goal is to write and illustrate her own children's books and
to be the voice of a character in an animated Disney move."
Her talent, dedication and goals come despite trials that might have
daunted a less determined youngster.
Born hearing impaired, Rebecca wears hearing aids in both ears and
"hears" with her eyes by lip-reading, as well as with her ears.
But harder than her own hearing problems is seeing her mother, Amy,
suffer from a genetic disorder called Huntington's Disease.
"Huntington's Disease is an inherited neurodegenerative disorder
that causes brain cells to die. It is due to a defective gene that is passed from one
generation to the next," Robert said. "It's like going insane while suffering
from Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson's Disease at the same time."
The disease has caused Amy to go from a devoted, talented and loving
mother to a confused, at times abusive, woman who now must live away from her children.
"She currently lives with her mother and I take the children to
visit her once a week," Robert said.
Amy Bishop inherited the disorder from her father. Of the six children
in her family, three have been diagnosed with the defective gene. While Rebecca and her
four younger siblings have not yet been tested for the gene, there is a 50-50 chance that
any of the children will inherit this disease.
It is the possibility of seeing two or three of his children, as well
as his believed wife, suffer and eventually die from this frightening disease, that caused
Robert to sell his computer software business last year in order to devote his entire
attention to raising money and increasing awareness of Huntington's Disease.
"When I decided to do this, the first question from the kids was
'how are we going to live?'," he said. "But things have worked out. We have a
lovely house and I was able to sell the business to a California company that really
wanted the functionality of the software we were working on, so we have enough now, that
if we economize, we can make it.
"I'm just one person, but one person can make a difference if he
can dedicate enough time to the work."
While Robert works to find a cure for Huntington's Disease, Rebecca
remembers the mother who started her love for reading and her passion for polar bears.
"She would take me up to the zoo all the time and we always looked
first and longest at the polar bears," she said.
"When I was doing my report, mom looked for a stuffed polar bear
that I could use, but we couldn't find one until after I had finished giving the
She still has that stuffed bear that she and her mother found seven
years ago, but it isn't alone nowan impressive collection of polar bears sits atop
an armoire full of a variety of books. The books include everything from Nancy Drew
("I started collecting them a few years ago, but they're a little young for me
now") to the first two books of a new four-part fantasy series that has her eagerly
anticipating the conclusion.
"My mom got me into reading," she recalled. "She would
read to me and with me and help me so much. Before I was eight years old, I had read the
Book of Mormon and I can read about 100 pages in an hour now."
Rebecca misses her mother, but realizes that there is no way to change
the way her mother is now.
Her father is determined to do everything in his power to make sure the
disease that has taken Amy out of their home will have a cure some day.
For more information on Huntington's Disease and how you can help in
the fight against it, visit Robert's Web Site at www.curehd.org.