Kansas City Portraits: Deborah Moreno

One Drawing Saves a Life

“When I was a child, about 12 or 13 years old I was involved in a very serious car accident,” says Deborah Moreno. “We got hit by an ambulance. I broke my elbow and had several cuts on my face. I was painting even then and finishing a drawing of a boy and I was sitting on a tire in the back of our van.”

Moreno woke up in Children’s Mercy Hospital a day later. She felt awful and thought she looked awful too. A couple of artists from Hallmark dropped by and offered to draw a caricature of her. She loved the picture and always remembered the experience, how it lifted her up when she felt so down.

Many years later, after her own successful career as a caricature artist in Las Vegas and Kansas City, she approached Children’s Mercy about drawing kids in the hospital. She wanted to give back.

“Some kids can’t walk and want to be superheroes, some want to be in a sports car,” Moreno says.

One youngster was literally on her deathbed. Moreno drew her picture and almost immediately, the staff started unplugging her life-support tubes. Moreno says, “I almost lost it. Well, I did lose it. I gathered my drawing tools and had to leave the room.”

A day off? What’s that? Deborah works six days a week as the caricature artist in residence at Crown Center.

And on the seventh day, she volunteers at Children’s Mercy Hospital.

Story and photos by Roy Inman.