When a group of cheerleaders ventures into the opposing team’s stands, they probably have a good reason. For the Hinsdale Central High School freshman, junior varsity, and varsity cheerleaders, it was to raise money to purchase fabric that they turned into blankets for patients at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago.
The squads perform annual service projects, but this undertaking was much more personal. Several of their classmates have been patients at Lurie Children’s Hospital (formerly Children’s Memorial Hospital), and this past summer, a beloved student lost his battle with leukemia. To honor their friends, the girls felt it was important to do something tangible. “This is giving someone warmth and comfort,” one explains.
Justina Griffin, who is Lurie’s Donations Coordinator, also happens to be a college roommate of JV coach Jennifer Schramm. Justina explained the huge need the hospital has for the blankets, and the coaches decided that this was an ideal endeavor for the group of nearly 75 girls.
After collecting donations at home football and soccer games, the girls had almost $3,000, vastly surpassing their $2,000 goal. They attribute this success to the overwhelming generosity of fans of all ages, as even small children were reaching into their pockets to contribute their change. A group of cheer moms then set out on a shopping mission for the fleece, using coupons and tax exemption forms to maximize every dollar. The girls worked in groups to make 135 blankets in infant, child, and teen sizes.
Every child who is a patient at Lurie for ongoing treatment receives one of these no-sew fleece blankets and are told who made it for them, so there is a connection between the blanket makers and the blanket keepers. “It’s an awesome feeling, knowing that something we made now belongs to someone like us or our friends,” says cheerleader Brooke O’Grady.
The patients take the blankets home with them when they leave Lurie. They become treasured keepsakes for many, continuing to provide warmth and reminding them that, along with their own family and friends, others are thinking of them during their time of illness.