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Rochester chalk artwork inspires others

Published: Dec. 30, 2021 at 7:38 PM CST
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – If you ever find yourself on 14th Avenue southwest Rochester, you also might find yourself leaving, feeling a little bit lighter.

“It’s such a great feeling knowing other people are getting encouraged,” Kitteren, or ‘Kit’ Jester said.

Kit is an artist. His canvas? The driveway. Kit started his art endeavors during the thick of the pandemic, May 2020. Living with dystonia, a movement disorder which causes his muscles to contract involuntarily, means his artwork doesn’t come easily.

“We’re just so proud of him. It’s fun to see the neighbors reactions and see how they respond,” Kit’s mother, Rebecca Jester said. “Kit just has a heart of gold. And he just likes to share and encourage.”

Living just minutes away from Mayo Clinic, Kit aims to encourage people like him who frequent the hospital. It was just two years ago his family relocated to be closer.

“My goal was to encourage people who go by,” Kit said. “A lot of people park and walk to St. Marys. So, that was kind of the first idea I had. It was right in the thick of the pandemic. I didn’t think I was going to do anymore, but I did.”

Since his first creation, Kit has spent hours upon hours with chalk in hand. Etching nearly 50 portraits, all with an encouraging word. Sometimes it’s a quote from Maya Angelou, other times it’s a line from Maurice Sendak’s ‘Where the Wild Things Are.’ Or Kit feels inspired himself and draws something from his own heart. Most of the time his artwork is on his own driveway, but sometimes, he draws closer to the hospital.

“You kind of get a variety of people walking by. You get people who are walking to St. Marys. You get neighbors. Other community members. Sometimes, patients and family members who want to escape the hotel, or walking away from the hospital for a period of time,” he said. “...It’s amazing to see their smiles. I get a lot of thank yous. Which is always such a surprise.”

Another surprise came from FedEx driver Kris Gudmundson, just before Christmas. Gudmundson has driven down 14th Avenue every day for the last seven years. He said he has enjoyed Kit’s art from the beginning.

“I went home one day and thought, I’m going to get that kid some chalk,” Gudmundson said.

That’s exactly what he did. A pack of 160 chalk pieces with a note reading: “I love the words of wisdom you leave in the driveway. Merry Christmas, Kris the FedEx Guy.”

“To see a package on the porch, and read the message and realize that this gentleman who had been delivering packages to hundreds of homes, probably crazed to get everything done, took the time to not only purchase this chalk but to stop by our house to leave it when we didn’t have other packages, he had to go out of his way, that was really cool,” Rebecca said.

Kit said the day the chalk was delivered, was particularly difficult, and the surprise made him feel special.

“I was really surprised and sort of amazed that someone would take time out of their busy day to do something like that,” Kit said.

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