Diabetes Youth Foundation honors longtime Terre Haute artist
Feb. 23, 2018
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (AP) — Terre Haute native Mike Ralston has been using his artistic talents to help children and teenagers living with diabetes for more than 10 years.
This year, the 73-year-old former U.S. Penitentiary and Terre Haute wastewater treatment plant worker helped raise $9,325 to support the Diabetes Youth Foundation of Indiana's mission. Other artists, including Jeff Whitaker, honored him during the Indy World of Wheels show this past weekend.
Each year, artists from all over Indiana and surrounding states come together to raise funds during the Charity Panel Jam.
Unique artwork is auctioned off throughout the weekend, ranging from pin-striped panels to bowling pins. The group enjoyed a record-breaking year by raising $40,661. Ralston has been a crucial part of making this event a success, said Jenna White, executive director of the Diabetes Youth Foundation of Indiana.
"Mike has always been a genuine and giving person," she mentioned. "He works extremely hard and asks for nothing in return. It is just nice for other artists to honor him. Very well deserved."
White said Ralston, who has been in business for 59 years, is known for creating one-of-a-kind pieces that are difficult to find anywhere. Although the pin-striping panel jam is only once a year, his shop is located in Terre Haute and with a call (812-239-2998), people can stop in and see for themselves.
"I was born with an art ability and I loved cars," said Ralston, a 1962 graduate of Gerstmeyer High School. "I grew up with a junkyard close to my house (on First Avenue). ... I saw pin-striping and I started practicing it over in the junkyard at 23rd and Locust (streets)."
At first, Ralston's mother didn't like him to visit the junkyard because of how greasy he'd be when he returned home.
"I got to where I was better and better at (pin-striping)," he recalled. "The Lord blessed me with this talent and I've tried to utilize it in a positive way to be a witness and a servant for Him in all that I do. ... Striping is all done by hand with a brush. Today, it takes a lot of art ability to customize the cars and to make them individualized. The cars look a lot nicer when they have the pin-striping. I do a lot of trucks too."
Ralston described his pin-striping as a "sideline job" to his career employment when he was younger.
"I used to drag race (in Terre Haute and Charleston, Illinois) and it used to support my drag racing," he pointed ou
Source: (Terre Haute) Tribune-Star, http://bit.ly/2sPuSec
Information from: Tribune-Star, http://www.tribstar.com