In 2011, I got the idea to pull out my old, worn out quilting skills and make a quilt and give it to someone battling Cancer. I didn't know at the time just how important this quilt would be, not only to me, but to the people and families that received it.
What I didn't know at the time was that I would meet and come to love the a special little girl and her family. Olivia was two and a half and her family of Mom and Dad and two brothers were looking for a house to buy. So I came to know them as a Realtor first. Meanwhile on the mission to make a quilt, I made my trip to one of my old haunts "The Quilted Angel" and selected a pattern and some materials. A couple of hundred dollars later (if you have made any clothes lately you know how expensive fabrics can be, if you have bought them at a quilting shop them you are nodding your head right now or moaning.... I have since found online fabrics at more affordable prices...) I headed home and started my project. It was a pink field on which flowers stood. I decided to name it Hope Blooms.
One day I was calling Olivia's Mom Leslie to let he know about a deadline we had on an escrow we were in at the time. She said "I really can't talk right now, we are headed to the hospital, Olivia has had a seizure." Obviously this family's life had changed, and mine had too. Olivia was diagnosed with a rare Brain Cancer. She underwent chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. I had no doubt who would get this quilt.
I took the quilt to be machine quilted after I had pieced and appliqued the top. I had tears in my eyes thinking about Olivia and what her family was going through. But part of me felt better because I knew what this quilt represented, and the love it had in its fiber and thread would wrap this little girl in a healing warmth that would keep her safe.
When I picked up the quilt my heart soared - it was beautiful. I started thinking about what the quilt meant and I knew it should be shared. I asked for people at our annual 3 day party to donate money to end Cancer and do so in the names of people they knew who had fought Cancer. That evening we gathered around $500 in donations. There was one person who donated $250 who had tears in her eyes as she gave a voice to three angels she had lost to Cancer. I saw then just what this quilt could really be - it could be a way to combine the spirits of those who have been touched by Cancer. It gave a voice to those who were lost, those who fought, those who are fighting and those who love them.
Last year I started earlier and spread the word more about the quilt. I decided the pattern I'd follow was one with several circles, that all lead to one center circle. I made the center bolder and brighter than the rest. This quilt I titled Circle of Hope.
Online I asked again for people to donate in the names of people they wanted to honor. I got a few donations and then it leveled off, our event was not well attended. It was a tough year in many respects for fundraising. So after it was obvious I would not have very many names, I opened it up to people who wanted to honor someone just by having me put their names on the card.
In the meantime I had selected a girl to get the quilt on the recommendation of a woman who has a local Cancer Support group. Ivy had leukemia and had been battling hard. She had lost the use of her legs as a result of the treatment.
By the time we delivered this quilt to Ivy I had over 600 names on the card. The family was touched, Ivy was delighted and I sat back and wondered what would happen to the quilt and this little girl. A while ago the mother sent me an email to let me know, Ivy goes to sleep with her hand on the power point ( the place with the circles join ). When they say their prayers at night she thanks a couple of people each night for her quilt.
And now this year...
I have become a part of the 3 day family. This happens when you give your heart to this cause, ending Breast Cancer. You come to know people across the country who share the same passion. This year there is a 6 year old girl, her name in McKenzie who is battling Brain Cancer. She is the niece of one of my 3 day friends. There was a group started by my friend Kristina called "Packages of Love for McKenzie". Since McKenzie will be getting treatments for the next year, the idea was to gather gifts to give her and her little brother TJ to ease the fear and pain they would be going through. I knew immediately who I wanted to receive the quilt.
After hearing about McKenzie and the kind of a big sister she is to her brother TJ, I wanted to gather as much power as I could to pack into this quilt. I read that she liked purple. Her favorite star is Justin Beiber. She loves to draw. I returned again to my favorite quilt shop to look for patterns. (I was also buying a pattern for my first grand baby's quilt and had my daughter and son in law in tow). I picked a pattern for the number of pieces and the brightness I felt it gave and decided to change the pink to pink and purples. I brought the pattern home and selected my online materials (slightly under $200 worth) and began my marathon sewing session to finish the quilt top.
I created an online group 2103 Warrior Quilt, and invited around 400 people to help me add the power. So far we have had a few donations, I hope many more follow. But I really want to load the card with names. So I have favors to ask of you.
1. Spread the word. Invite people to join the group on Facebook - or simply respond to this post.
2. Donate in the name/s of your warriors (survivors, fighters and angels) - The money goes to my two 2013 walks to end Breast Cancer in SF and Atlanta. www.the3day.org/goto/cathy or donate via PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org or a check by mail written to Susan G Komen 3 Day. sent to Cathy Youngling 32 Miller Ave. Mill Valley CA 94941
3. HELP me name the quilt!
Make sure you give me names. First names are fine or full names are fine. The first two names on my list are Olivia and Ivy. Let's make this quilt a powerful purple passionate piece of love.