By Olivia Justus, Photos provided by Terri Crothers
Terri Crothers slowly pushes the kayak into Brush Creek in Adams County. She hops on and ventures into the waters in search of 15 to 20 pounds of rocks to paint. Each rock is handpicked, hand washed and sanitized before Crothers brushes her first stroke of paint.
“I’ve always enjoyed paintings,” Crothers says. “That’s the way I relax and de-stress. Painting the rocks is a way that I can give to others and maybe make somebody smile.”
Crothers created Aralyn’s Alliance Rocks when she heard 10-year-old Aralyn Slack had been diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Poutine Glioma. DIPG is an aggressive brain tumor found in the brainstem, which controls vital functions like breathing, blood pressure and heart rate.
Around 300 children are diagnosed with DIPG every year, according to Boston Children’s Hospital. No one has survived the diagnosis.
Aralyn lives in Lynchburg County, where Crothers grew up. After connecting through a friend, she decided to paint the rocks for Aralyn. Since May, Crothers has painted nearly 900 rocks.
Aralyn’s rocks have traveled far and wide
In just over three months, Aralyn’s rocks have traveled to 37 states and 11 countries, including England, Scotland and Peru. Aralyn spread some rocks herself in the Bahamas, after Crothers gave her an entire box full to distribute on the family’s cruise.
“There are people out there who have found these rocks and said, ‘I needed this today,’” Shawnda Slack, Aralyn’s mother, says. “It’s not just for Aralyn, I think it kind of helps everyone to have a little goodness and kindness spread.”
The rocks have helped spread awareness, but they also bring joy to Aralyn. Each day she peers through the “Aralyn’s Alliance Rocks!” Facebook page to see where the rocks have wandered each day.
Despite the hardships, Aralyn is thriving. “She’s going to school every day, she is playing soccer,” Slack says. “She is doing all the things she still loves to do.”
To participate in Aralyn’s story, stop by Sugar Shack in Hillsboro, OH to pick up rocks painted by Crothers.