News Column

Cedar Rapids native keeps son's legacy alive

July 30, 2014

By Alison Gowans, The Gazette, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

July 30--It has been almost 20 years since Kathy Eldon's son Dan died, and she's worked ever since to keep his legacy alive.

A photojournalist covering a civil war in Somalia for Reuters, Dan and three others were stoned to death by a mob in Mogadishu. He was 22.

"That began my survival technique, which was to transform a horror into something positive," Eldon said.

Eldon, who grew up in Cedar Rapids, will return to IowaAugust 8 to 10 to share some of the positive things that have grown from the tragedy.

She founded the Creative Visions Foundation and the Dan Eldon Center for Creative Arts. Both work to support people who are using the arts and media to work for positive change. Eldon has also written books, including a memoir, "The Heart of Life," and a book centered on Dan's journals, "The Journey is the Destination."

Two other books based around Dan's art and life were written by Iowa City author Jennifer New, and a feature film about his life is set to begin production this fall. Exhibits of his photographs and art have toured the world, including a photography exhibit, "The Nation Wars," on display now at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art.

Dan and his sister Amy grew up in Kenya, but came back to Cedar Rapids during summers to visit their grandparents and attend Camp Wapsie at the Cedar Rapids YMCA. Eldon, who attended Washington High School, also will attend her 50th class reunion while she's in town. Her father, Russell Knapp, founded SCI Financial Services. He and his wife, Louise, were well-known philanthropists before they died.

Eldon said she's amazed at the number of people who have told her Dan's story is their inspiration. She said he lived passionately and she wants to encourage his way of life in others.

"I think it's incredible that Dan, with deep roots in Cedar Rapids, is now truly a global icon," she said. "He was an ordinary young man with an extraordinary view of the world."

She said she wants others to also know they can have the kind of impact her son has had, even after his death. During her visit to Cedar Rapids, she will give a gallery tour of her son's exhibit at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, she will give a presentation on a curriculum she developed, which focuses on using art to ignite social change, and she will work with a teen journaling craft class.

"I'll be talking about how to nurture creative activism in young people," she said. "It's about nurturing the sense that you can tell stories that need to be told to solve problems that need to be solved, both locally and globally. That is ultimately the theme of everything I'm doing."

If you go:

-- What: Kathy Eldon visit with Cedar Rapids Museum of Arts Friday Crafternoon for teens

-- When: 1 p.m. -- 3 p.m.Aug. 8

-- Where: Grant Wood Studio, 810 Second Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids

-- Cost: Free for teens; preregistration required

More information:

If you go:

-- What: Gallery tour of "The Restless Spirit: Art from the American Collection" exhibit with Kathy Eldon

-- When: 10:30 a.m.Aug. 9

-- Where: Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, 410 Third Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids

-- Cost: Free

If you go:

-- What: Kathy Eldon will discuss her curriculum, Rock Your World, which focuses on using art to ignite social change.

-- When: 1 p.m. -- 3 p.m., Aug. 10

-- Where: Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, 410 Third Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids

-- Cost: Free


(c)2014 The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, Iowa)

Visit The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) at

Distributed by MCT Information Services

For more stories covering arts and entertainment, please see HispanicBusiness' Arts & Entertainment Channel

Source: Gazette (Cedar Rapids, IA)

Story Tools Facebook Linkedin Twitter RSS Feed Email Alerts & Newsletters