April 1


Heart of Service: A Legend Built by Jeff Hanson

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I’m inspired to share a powerful story about a young local man named Jeff Hanson and how he personified the Master Key Experience for me. As spring arrives in the Midwest, and we anticipate Easter, I’ve been busy storing winter decor and doing the requisite spring cleaning. With the hum of the vacuum to accompany me, I have been reflecting on how the gray stillness of the cold in winter transforms into the bold, beautiful, color and busyness of spring. As my mind wandered, I thought of how many of us have suffered losses in the winter.

I lost my mom Thanksgiving week, 2002, and my dad right after Christmas, 2015. It makes sense that we lose elderly friends and loved ones in the winter – It doesn’t hurt less, but with illness proliferating in the cold weather, it’s easier to understand. Thinking of young folks who die brings a different kind of sadness.

In the winter of 2020, the world lost an amazing young man – Jeff Hanson. He lived nearby and I had the pleasure of meeting him and his parents about a year before his death. His is an incredible story of the life of an almost blind artist, his giant heart, and his magnificent, larger-than-life talent.

Master Key Experience Exemplified

Jeff Hanson was a great example of so many things we teach in the Master Key Experience. He had a Definite Major Purpose, a Mastermind Alliance, and a plan of action. He had a positive mental attitude and lived a life of gratitude. He greeted the day with love in his heart, laughed at the world, and was nature’s greatest miracle. He personified the Law of Giving above and beyond anything I’ve ever seen, and persisted until he succeeded in raising and donated over $1 million dollars to charity by the time he was twenty.

I read the book his dad wrote about his life, “Lessons from Clod”, and had planned on connecting him with a friend who is involved in a children’s charity, in hopes more money could be raised for them thorough Jeff’s artwork, but that was not to be.

CBS Sunday Morning did a profile on him in 2015, which does a great job of summarizing his amazing spirit. Please click the link to watch – only a few minutes of your time, but you’ll be blessed!

All the images here, and excerpts from the tribute below are from the Facebook page of Jeff Hanson Art. Please take time to read it, and click the link at the bottom if you wish to donate to the Children’s Tumor Foundation. There is a choice on the donate form “Would you like your donation to go to a family fund?” The drop-down box gives the option of the Jeffrey Owen Hanson – 10 million by 30 fund. By choosing that option, you can help fulfill his dream of raising 10 million for charity.

Jeff Hanson

Jeff Hanson’s Impact

Once in a great while, a life-force collides with yours, sending you careening off on a new and unexpected trajectory. That is what happened to parents Hal and Julie Hanson on September 30, 1993.

Jeffrey Owen Hanson (1993-2020) departed this earth on December 20, 2020, repainting Heaven with a vibrant palette of colors—but not before sharing his contagious smile, generous heart and colorful fingerprints on everything he touched.

Born with a genetic disorder, neurofibromatosis, Jeff became visually impaired from a brain tumor (playfully named CLOD) at age 12. But it was during therapy for that tumor that the accidental artist developed a passion for painting, as well as philanthropy. He “just wanted to give back.”

The Artist is Born

Despite his low vision, Jeff Hanson began painting note cards and selling them at a driveway bake sale, “Jeff’s Bistro.” Proceeds were donated to Children’s Tumor Foundation. Note cards gradually transitioned to acrylics on canvas, and the self-taught artist developed his heavily-textured, boldly colored signature style.

By age 15, Jeff Hanson incorporated his art business, and employed his parents as assistants—unexpected new careers for the emergency physician and marketer parents, Hal and Julie.

Jeff began donating some of his paintings to live charity auctions across the country, with his mission to “change the world through art.” By age 20, Jeff Hanson made national headlines when his artwork generated $1 million for charity. And upon his death, at age 27, Jeff had generated $6.5 million for over 200 charities and was on track to give $10 million by age 30.

“Every act of kindness helps create kinder communities, more compassionate nations and a better world for all—even one painting at a time.”

Jeff Hanson

God had other plans for Jeff’s artistic talents and benevolence, however, when a new brain tumor, diagnosed in October, 2020, quickly took his life.

Jeff Hanson lived his entire life in Overland Park, KS, and had no formal art training. He attended Overland Trail elementary school in the Blue Valley school district. He transferred to the Kansas State School for the Blind in sixth grade. Jeff attended high school at Horizon Academy in Roeland Park, KS, graduating in 2012.

A Recognized Hero

While Jeff enjoyed a very successful career as an artist, his philanthropic spirit drew even more attention. Jeff Hanson was awarded both Young Philanthropist of the Year and Young Entrepreneur of the Year for his efforts.

He was a People magazine “Hero Among Us” and appeared on CNN’s “Impact Your World.” In 2012, Jeff Hanson won Prudential’s coveted National Spirit of Community Award, for outstanding community service. In 2015, The NASCAR Foundation honored Jeff with the Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award, and his inspirational story was profiled on CBS Sunday Morning.

Jeff’s art and philanthropy have caught the attention of many high-profile friends. A wonderful example was meeting Sir Elton John on his Make A Wish night, during treatment for CLOD, at age 14. Rather than ask for something, Jeff Hanson personally handed Elton a check for $1000 for the Elton John AIDS Foundation—money earned selling note cards.

Giving More and Getting More

An astonished Elton reciprocated with a $5000 donation to the Children’s Tumor Foundation and a first-class trip to a concert in Dubai for Jeff and his parents—part of that new and unexpected trajectory.

Jeff Hanson’s paintings hang in the homes of art collectors across the globe, including Sir Elton, Warren E. Buffett, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., John Cena and countless others touched by Jeff’s philanthropic soul and unique style.

Jeffrey Owen Hanson lived by the motto: Don’t let your CLOD define you! Jeff did not want to be known as “the kid down the street with low vision and a brain tumor.” He wanted to be defined as “the kid who gave a million dollars to charity.”

“We all have challenges. It’s not the challenge, but rather your response to the challenge that defines you.”

Jeff Hanson

On a more personal note, Jeff Hanson was most happy when simply visiting with friends or traveling with his parents. He could not drive a car due to low vision, but loved to just ride along. “You be the wheels, I’ll pay the meals,” he would say.

He loved cruises, big hotels and fast food. He always said he had “Gucci taste with a McDonalds palate.” Jeff Hanson loved trinkets, fidgets, all stuffed animals, especially Ramone the bear, girls, and a “McDouble Plain, large fries, extra crispy and a large Diet Coke, no ice.”

Jeff loved anything purple and said he lived “a purple driven life.” The painting’s not done until the purple goes on!

Jeff Hanson

The Hanson family has been deeply touched by the public tributes and many people who have shared the unique ways Jeff’s art and story have impacted their lives and altered their trajectory. The family finds great comfort in knowing that Jeff’s personal mission to “change the world through art,” was indeed accomplished! Well done, our extraordinary and loving son! Your work here is finished!

I’ve used the lovely note cards created from his work to send uplifting messages to folks through the years as my small way of contributing to Jeff Hanson’s dream, and you can imagine how challenging the Hallmark jigsaw puzzles are! The family continues to create paintings in Jeff’s unique style in order to reach his goal of raising $10 Million for charity. You can see more by visiting www.jeffhansonart.com

Jeff Hanson

Well done, Jeff Hanson! Can’t wait to see how you’re splashing heaven with color!

So if you’re ready to discover the hero inside of you, despite whatever challenges you face, join us for the next session of the Master Key Experience and let us open the door to your best self. You can’t buy it. We only offer scholarships!

Read more articles by Nancy Ottinger

About the author

Nancy brings a wealth of life and health-care industry experience to her role as a successful and sought-after Master Guide. For over seven years, she has supported and encouraged dozens of MasterKey members to claim their best life. Her members include best-selling authors to best-loved Grandmas, whatever the member's bliss, Nancy's ready to guide them as they discover their true selves!

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  • What beautiful observations, Nancy. I love how you see all the Master Key Experience lessons in this young man’s life well lived. Thank you so much for sharing!!

  • Nancy – Spectacular tribute to a true Hero, an inspiration for all of us. Jeff Hanson was a wonderful example of being authentic and sharing his gifts with the world. Thanks for sharing his story with us!

    • We don’t have to live long to live well! Jeff followed his heart and shared his gifts and we all benefit!

  • Nancy thank you sharing Jeff’s fantastic inspirational story. Absolutely love how you noticed all the attributes of the Master Keys that he demonstrated.

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