Students make pillowcases, fight cancer

By Jessica Johnson-Petty
October 12, 2011

Pillowcases to fight cancer allowed students and faculty to assist ConKerr Cancer to exceed the goal of 6,000 pillowcases made in the Philadelphia area as they stitched from their heart on Wednesday, Sept. 28 in the Grace Hall boardroom.

A Case for Smiles started with Cindy Kerr, founder of ConKerr Cancer, making pillowcases for her son Ryan who was diagnosed with bone cancer in the knee at the age of 12.

“I would make fun pillow cases for Ryan; hamburgers, soccer, Halloween, for a year each time he went into the hospital,” Kerr said. “Then I started to make them for the rest of the kids on the floor at CHOP (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia). When Ryan relapsed friends joined in and we made more.”

ConKerr Cancer was on Martha Stewart in 2008, and now has 115 chapters and associated with 250 hospitals international.

“We have a no white policy,” Kerr said. “The purpose of the fun colorful pillowcases is to break up the monotony in the hospital.”

September was Childhood Cancer month.  With 44,000 children battling cancer in North America, the goal for the organization for this month is to make 44,000 pillowcases, at least one for each child in treatment.

Dr. Courtney Smith, assistant professor of history and political science, brought ConKerr Cancer to the college. Smith’s mother works at Saint Luke Orthodox Church where some members are helping hands for ConKerr Cancer.

“After my mother told me about ConKerr Cancer, I thought that this will be a great service opportunity to bring to Cabrini,” Smith said.

ConKerr brought sewing machines and Christmas-themed fabric for Cabrini students and faculty the opportunity to make pillowcases for children battling cancer.

Alyssa Neilson, former employee of the college’s admissions office and volunteer for ConKerr Cancer, is now on board for the cause.

“I read about it in the newspaper and I was touched. Cindy is a remarkable woman,” Neilson said.

Current faculty and students lent a hand in sewing pillowcases. This was the first time that some used a sewing machine, but that did not stop Dr. Andrew Owen, assistant professor of sociology, from attempting to sew a pillowcase together.

Owen quickly learned how to create a pillowcase and eventually starting teaching others how to create one. He created many pillowcases for the cause.  Owen said it was something that he knew he needed to do. “How could I not,” Owen said.

Lacie Dobet, freshman undecided major, felt the need to be there as well. She knew that her time and effort would not go in vain.

“This is a really good cause. All the children should not have to go through what they do. It’s the least that I could do. It’s just something nice that could be done,” Dobet said.

While some knew that they just could not allow the opportunity pass by, Eric Streicher, freshman undecided major, sewed pillowcases because the cause touched his heart on a personal level.

“I found out that my dad was diagnosed with cancer last May. I knew that this is something nice I could do for kids with cancer,” Streicher said.

A total of 60 cases were sewn during the event, meaning  60 more children’s spirits will be lifted because of the pillows made on campus.

“I feel better about myself knowing that some kid somewhere will feel better,” Streicher said.

Experienced and beginner sewers came together to help fight cancer by brightening others lives, one pillow case at a time.

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Jessica Johnson-Petty

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