Beloit Film Commemorates A Lifelong Connection

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“He would just give them a really bright, fun, animated card,” said Jan Jensen, daughter of Bob Jensen. He would send them one everyday so they had something to look forward to,” she added.

Few people use their talents for as much good as Bob Jensen. Jensen, a superintendent of schools in Clinton and an artist during the 80’s, used his talents for card making to create a lasting impact on a little girl living in a Boston children’s hospital.

“Joni was a sick little girl, she had something called Vater Syndrome, which was basically an acronym for a series of birth defects,” said Mike Allen-Davis, husband of Jan Jensen.

Joni Vorass Lillard of Beloit was struggling in the hospital when her teacher put out an ad in the local paper, asking people to make her cards for her 7th birthday.

“He saw the article and so he made her a card, but it’s a hand painted, hand made card, hand lettered (saying), ‘Hey Joni, hope you feel better!’,” Davis said. “She liked it so much, and he heard that she liked it so much he sent her a card the next day and the next day.”

Jensen sent Joni a card every day for the next two and a half years. To carry on his legacy, Jan Jensen and her husband Mark Allen-Davis created a film called ‘The Bear And The Owl’, documenting their story. The film is currently showing in the Beloit Film Festival.

“We really wanted to premiere locally in Beloit because it’s amazing for us to be able to share this story with family and friends, and people who knew my dad or know Joni who still lives in Beloit. “

In an effort to also bring more awareness to Bob’s legacy, Jan and Mark invited local residents to make cards for other children who are in the hospital. Dozens came to the Beloit Public Library Saturday to make them.

“In the age of social media, it’s sort of a great way to reconnect on a personal level with someone and the film is really about that as well,” said Davis.

“All the cards are going to kids who are sick in the Beloit Memorial Hospital,” Jan said. “It’s just a nice way to pay it forward and have something nice to do with your family, friends, and kids,” she added.

‘The Bear and The Owl’ will be showing again at the Hendricks Art Center at 7:30p.m. on February 28th. For more information visit https://beloitfilmfest.org/
 

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