Year in review: painter helps set unusual new world record

Editor’s Note: This week we’re featuring our favorite features for people of 2021, a reminder that even in tough years, good things happen. This one first appeared on May 27.

Troy shantz

A woman from Sarnia is part of a Guinness World Record-setting event involving painted rocks from around the world.

A total of 21,970 hand-painted rocks were collected by organizers of the Joshua York Legacy Foundation in Baltimore on May 15, setting a new world record for most rocks painted in one location.

Eighty-five of the stones were from Kathy Taylor’s backyard studio. She has painted bright illustrations on stones found and donated over the past four years.

“My friends, they all have rock gardens now,” she said with a laugh.

Residents of Sarnia have likely seen his work scattered here and there throughout the city. The stones, which she paints for free, often feature inspirational messages or are personalized to honor a deceased loved one.

Families place them near gravestones, memorials and gardens.

“What it does for them, it also does for me,” she said. “It’s amazing how something so simple can do it. “

It all started during a late-night conversation with a friend who lost her son to suicide. While they were seated, Taylor painted the Superman symbol on a rock and gave it to the family. They loved it, she says.

She has painted thousands more since, using raw material supplied by landowners in Sarnia-Lambton. The sweeter the better, she said.

After applying flowers, symbols and landscapes, she coats them with resin so that they do not fade on the outside.

When the pandemic arrived, she turned her attention to Bluewater Health, painting and placing 700 ladybugs for staff to enjoy when entering and exiting the building. Another 100 stones light up the roof garden of the hospital for patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s.

“They all smiled. I tried to be the happy person during the pandemic, ”Taylor said.

The new Guinness World Record was set with stones from nine countries and all 50 US states. The main objective was to raise awareness about mental health and suicide.

The Joshua York Foundation was founded by Joshua’s father, William York, following his son’s suicide in 2018. Joshua York’s mother mourned six months later.

Taylor sent three mailings. One of its stones painted with a Canadian flag made such an impression on the organizers that it was placed in front of the 124 Canadian submissions.

The event easily surpassed the previous record of 8,000 stones at one location, organizers said.

The assembled rocks will be distributed across the United States and placed in random locations to spread a message of hope.

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