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Adding STEAM to the PMC

Empow Studios hosts workshops to benefit cancer care and research

When Taylor Tutwiler rides her bike each year as part of the Pan-Mass Challenge® (PMC) to benefit the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, she has a goal and it’s personal.

“Many people in my life have been affected by cancer,” says Tutwiler. “Both of my grandmothers died of cancer in their 60’s. Some of my best friends in high school and college had parents going through chemotherapy while we were in school. My boyfriend’s mother, who I consider family, battled pancreatic cancer while her son was in middle school. With the help of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, she has been a survivor since 2004.”

Tutwiler (right) with Williams (center) at 2015 PMC finish line.

In fact, following her treatment at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Tutwiler says her close friend, Loie Williams, has not only recovered, but has gone on to help other cancer patients by joining the PMC bike ride herself. “She has ridden in the PMC every year since 2006 and has raised almost 172-thousand dollars,” exclaims Tutwiler. “I have spent years raising money for Cancer research through Relay for Life, but now that I have recently moved to Massachusetts, I can finally ride in the PMC with her and give back to the place that helped her beat the Cancer.”


Taylor and Loie are planning to take part in the
38th PMC ride, which takes place on August 5th and 6th, includes more than 6,000 cyclists, and offers various two-day routes that range from 132 to 192 miles and one-day rides that range from 25 to 110 miles. With starting lines in Sturbridge, Wellesley and Bourne, cyclists will pass through a combined 46 towns across Massachusetts. Participants travel from more than 40 states and seven countries to take part and 100-percent of every rider-raised dollar goes directly to The Jimmy Fund®, a charity which solely supports Dana-Farber and funds adult and pediatric cancer care and research.

Classes for a Cause

Student showing her coding and design skills with her new video game made at Empow

On a typical day as Empow Studios Administrator, Taylor coordinates classes and clubs, sets up schedules and works to promote various STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics) activities. It recently occurred to her that she could combine both her passion for raising money to battle cancer and her work at Empow through charity workshops. In response to her idea, Empow Studios has set up six, monthly Sunday workshops, beginning March 26 and running through August 20, with 100-percent of the $30 fees going to PMC. 

“It was a no-brainer for us to support Taylor’s mission,” says Leonid Tunik, founder of Empow Studios. “Our work atmosphere here is positive, hopeful, and mission-oriented. We’re very focused on empowering kids, and the stories of kids who triumph over cancer are so inspiring. I wanted to help create more of those stories.”

The hope is that parents can feel good about that fact that 100% of the workshop fee is donated, while their kids are able to expand their knowledge of technology. “We have a variety of opportunities where kids can learn technical and creative skills that span 3D printing, coding, stop-motion animation, video game design, Minecraft, robotics, and other enticing technologies,” says Empow Outreach Director Dave Gutierrez.

“The purpose of the workshops is not just to raise money for the cause but to get more children involved in STEM for the future good,” adds Taylor, who is appealing to anyone who can take part: “Help us raise the money to keep researchers going, keep patients fighting, and raise the next generation of innovative thinkers to finally end cancer for good.”

Painting for Parents

Considering many parents will be dropping their children off for the workshops, Taylor decided to expand the idea to include an option for the adults. She found a willing and excited partner in studio owner Reshma Katwa, of Lexington Center’s ‘Pinot’s Palette,’ which offers painting events and classes. “Pinot’s Palette is a national franchise and supports many fundraising events nationwide,” says Katwa. “As a small business in Lexington, working with community and partnering with other businesses has always been a big part of our idea of community achievement.”

To benefit the PMC, Pinot’s Palette will host six events that correspond with the Empow workshops, but are open to all who want to take part. There will be spring and summer painting themes, and 50-percent of sales proceeds will be donated to the PMC. “Parents can enjoy their Sunday afternoon painting a beautiful picture while enjoying their glass of wine along with fun music,” adds Katwa, who considers it a win-win for parents. “What a great way to teach kids and have a ‘date night’,” she exclaims. “Pinot’s Palette is glad to partner with Empow Studios and help the Pan-Mass Challenge.” Parents who sign up children for workshops will also get $5 coupon codes for Pinot’s Palette.

“Parents have a place to bring the kids while they go make some awesome art,” notes Tutwiler, who is hopeful the collaboration and classes will make a difference: “The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute does so much good for families and patients and I just want to contribute to the hope and miracles they have provided.”

If you cannot make the workshops but would still like to contribute, please visit Taylor’s fundraising page here.

Kristin spent more than a dozen years producing television news and documentaries and now writes for various Boston area publications on topics ranging from medicine and science to general news and education. She is also the mother of two young girls who are extremely active in STEAM events.

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