Skip to main content

Remembering Jeff Hanson

By December 21, 2020February 6th, 2024NF1, Science & Research, Story of NF

“My name is Jeff Hanson, and I am changing the world through art”

With his breathtakingly colorful, cheerful and vivacious paintings, Jeff Hanson created a movement that raised millions for charity, brought immeasurable attention to neurofibromatosis and other worthy causes, and earned much-deserved accolades from across the world.

Today, we are heartbroken to share that the visionary Jeff Hanson, the 27-year-old NF Hero who was legally blind but opened everyone’s eyes to all that is possible, has passed away. A much-cherished member of the Children’s Tumor Foundation family, including as our 2015 National NF Ambassador, Jeff’s distinctive talent helped make the world a better place and brought much joy to all who interacted with him personally or owned one of his paintings. In fact, his motto was “Every act of kindness helps create kinder communities, more compassionate nations and a better world for all… even one painting at a time.” He lived his motto and inspired all with his enduring message of hope and possibility.

As with all our NF warriors, Jeff did not choose to have NF, but he did choose to not allow it to define him. At the young age of 12, as he was undergoing treatment, he launched “Jeff’s Bistro”, a lemonade stand from which he also sold note cards with his art. Neighbors, and then neighbors of neighbors, and then strangers, flocked to own a Jeff Hanson card. From that moment, his crusade was born.

As he grew up, he challenged himself further, commanding his disability – his loss of vision – into an awe-inspiring demonstration of the human spirit. He set a goal to raise one million dollars by the age of twenty, through the auctioning of his art for various charities. And he met that goal and beyond – his new goal was to raise $10 million by the age of 30 – attracting the attention of gala stages and auctioneers and celebrities worldwide. Jeff’s legacy is measured by the many people he inspired over the years –  famous and not-so-famous alike, but it also didn’t hurt that influencers like Elton John and Warren Buffett own a Jeff Hanson piece of art.

Within the NF community, Jeff and his parents Julie and Hal were ever-present in their commitment to finding solutions for neurofibromatosis, for all NF patients. In 2015, Jeff’s artwork was wrapped on all the Racing4Research cars benefiting the Children’s Tumor Foundation at the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. As cars sped by on the track at 200 miles per hour, one was awed at the fiery presence of cars wrapped with Jeff’s distinctively bright reds and yellows and oranges as they raced to the finish line. Hearing of Jeff’s story, the well-known actor and race car driver Patrick Dempsey even wore a helmet inspired by Jeff’s art, which true to form for Jeff, was later auctioned off to benefit the Children’s Tumor Foundation.

Importantly, Jeff and his family recognized that awareness and funding lead to the support of more research opportunities, and they became involved in the Foundation’s Synodos projects. Synodos – which means ‘on the road together ‘ – is the Foundation’s open data, team science initiative that brings ‘dream teams’ of scientists together to solve complex problems. Like those race cars, its goal is to get to the finish line – an end to NF – through teamwork and by moving as quickly and efficiently as one can.

At the center of each Synodos project are the patients and their families, who help researchers better understand the challenges to be solved. The Hanson’s are a true team effort: Jeff’s father, Hal, served on the Synodos committee that set research priorities; Jeff’s mom, Julie, worked to bring attention to NF through successful national media outreach, and Jeff did what he did best – created his superb art and fostered an optimistic outlook that motivated others. In fact, Jeff’s artwork was incorporated into the branding for our Synodos efforts – together with Jeff, we called it “The Art of Ending NF”.  Much like the strokes of an artist’s brush, researchers are careful and meticulous and often have to be repetitive in their work, but that persistence and determination result in outcomes that better the lives of those around them.

There is much to be said about Jeff’s life, more than can be covered here in this post, and so we encourage you to visit his website:, for a more detailed biography and to view his art. We’ve also listed links below which you may find of interest, connected to some of Jeff’s appearances at CTF events.

Jeff Hanson’s legacy was and is a message of compassionate outreach to all who deserve to be heard – and seen – for all the wonderful things that they are. We are saddened to say goodbye to our dear Jeff, but we are inspired by his perseverance and that of all NF Heroes. On this day and always, we are imbued and galvanized with clarity about our mission, and Jeff’s mission – to END NF.



Jeff Hanson Website

Jeff Hanson – 2015 CTF National Ambassador Video

Jeff Hanson on CBS Sunday Morning

Jeff Hanson Artwork on Racing4Research Cars – Video

Jeff Hanson Wins Nascar Foundation Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award

Jeff Hanson – Synodos: The Art of Ending NF