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Positively Oklahoma: 'He's Home!' | Dad's colorful Crayola reunion

Positively Oklahoma
Posted at 5:43 PM, Jun 14, 2024

TULSA, Okla. — Creating colorful moments with his daughters brings back childhood memories to Kevin Drain.

He was around the same age as his 9-year-old Emma when his art was chosen to be part of the national Dream Makers exhibit in the 1990s.

"My Jenks West Elementary School art teacher had submitted mine and others for this Crayola contest, and then I got a call or mail—I don't remember—saying I was accepted," said Kevin.

POSITIVELY OKLAHOMA: Crayola Kevin to be reunited with childhood painting

That win inspired him to dream big.

"When you're younger, you just think you're coloring or painting, and you go to school, and your parents see it, and you bring it home, they're excited. But then, I see something where somebody from a big outside company says, 'Hey, we like this, and we want it.' It is encouraging," said Kevin.

Kevin's prized dot painting was created with Q-tips of the family pet named Cheeks.

"Cheeks is a cockatiel. He was actually our second," said Kevin.


Cheeks the Cockatiel

That Cheeks painting became part of an exhibit shown in museums nationwide.

"Part of the agreement was that you give them the painting, and you don't get it back," said Kevin.

But now Crayola is returning his painting and 1000 others in its Campaign for Creativity, inspiring creative moments every day.

The company launched the campaign on Instagram, starting with Cheeks and a search for Kevin, a student from Jenks West Elementary in the 90s.

2 News Oklahoma's Julie Chin found him with your help on social media and then let Crayola know. Crayola's executives then sent Julie the painting to hand-deliver to Kevin.

Underneath layers of bubble wrap, Kevin unearths his long-lost treasure.

"It is bigger than I remember. Wow! It's neater than I thought it was going to be, honestly. I was like, oh, it's just a kid painting, you know—it's really cool seeing it after 27 years," said Kevin.

The hues are still vibrant.

"It really does make a big difference seeing it in person," said Kevin.

We turn the painting over and find the original submission on the back. As he looks through the paperwork from 1997, Kevin suddenly becomes sentimental.

"There's my parents' signatures at the bottom," said Kevin.

He spots his teacher's name and his 4th-grade words about Cheeks.

"We named him that because he has orange cheeks," said Kevin.

And beneath all the business, there's a new handwritten note from Crayola.

It reads in part:

"Dear Kevin, Our team is delighted to have the opportunity to reunite you with your masterpiece. Your courage to dream embodies our mission and reminds us that art is about the stories we tell, our feelings, thoughts, and experiences. May your art continue to inspire as it inspired us."

"That's cool. Yeah, that's cool," smiles Kevin.

After traveling the nation, The Drain family decides the Cheeks painting will land in Emma's room.

"Because whenever I wake up, I can see it and feel excited about what my Dad has accomplished. I am so proud of my Dad," said Emma Drain.

They find just the right spot and mark it with purple Crayola. With a few taps of a hammer, Cheeks is picture-perfect.

"He's home!" exclaims Kevin.

Now high on his new perch, Cheeks is inspiring the next set of artists and a new set of dreams.

"It makes me think my Dad accomplished something when he was younger and about my age, and maybe one day I can do that too," Emma said.

Crayola continues to reunite more adults with their childhood art.

You can help and learn more about the Campaign for Creativity here.

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