Texas Connects Us: Flower Mound Teen Grants Wishes with Art

From inside a Lewisville art studio, 17-year-old Janvi Shahi hones her skills and prepares her latest paintings for a cause.

Today the canvases depict social commentaries and her reflections of the real world around her, but when she first picked up her brush in 2002, it was to paint her own personal battle with a deadly illness.

"I had A.L.L., a leukemia," said Janvi.

The childhood form of bone marrow cancer struck the then-4-year-old not once but twice; a battle that even years later she remembers fairly clearly.

"Some parts I don't want to remember," she said.

One part that sticks out, and one that she says may have changed her outlook more than anything, was when she had her wish granted. The Make-A-Wish Foundation sent Shahi and her parents to Disney World to boost her spirits through her battle.

It worked for the first bout, but when she relapsed into cancer Janvi's wish had already been used. The foundation carries a one-wish policy.

So the 4-year-old decided that with her wish up, she would instead become the wish granter.

She took up drawing and, eventually, painting during the relapse. And when she again beat the illness she approached the foundation with some of her art, hoping to help.

She began taking her art to Make-A-Wish charity auctions and selling them to help the cause.

Her first piece brought in about $40, but that was just the first.

She kept painting and improving. By 2011, in a visit with NBC 5, she revealed she had raised $45,000 in donations.

Now it's five years later and she's kept improving. One of her most recent pieces fetched $14,000, but it's her grand total that's got people throughout the foundation talking.

"Over the years she's been able to grant $100,000, almost. That's her goal this year, to help other kids get their wishes," said foundation representative Erin Michel.

Janvi, now a senior at Flower Mound High School, plans to break that $100,000 mark before she heads to college to study art next fall. She's also been recognized by the foundation for her lifetime of dedication to the cause.

"It is who she has become in this journey, that is what we are very thankful for," said her mother, Manu Shahi.

Janvi says, though her time will be more limited as she moves on to college, she plans to keep painting for the foundation as she can, and to keep inspiring other kids who are fighting the fight she once did.

"To show these kids, you need to keep up with these people because they're going to change your life," said Janvi.

Janvi is now 13 years cancer free.

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