Pennsylvania Quilting Friends Travel 300+ Miles
Delivering 108 Quilts for ALS
When Virginia Beach resident Kathy Thompson decided to raise awareness and research funds to help find a cure for ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, she knew quilters would embrace the challenge. As the co-founder and owner of Quilter’s Dream BattingÒ, a Virginia Beach based business that manufactures high quality quilt batting; Kathy knows how generous and caring the quilt community is. What she didn’t know was how much they would touch her life and the lives of thousands of individuals living with ALS, including her own son.
In early 2007, Kathy’s 32-year old son Josh was diagnosed with ALS. The disease has taken Josh from a strong, happy, athletic young husband and new father to being completely paralyzed – unable to eat, speak, or move. He is on life support.
“To say his diagnosis and this experience have been devastating is a true understatement,” Kathy says. “It was shocking to learn that a disease that was discovered well over 100 years ago has absolutely no treatment or help available.”
So Thompson and the staff at Quilter’s Dream BattingÒ created a unique way to raise awareness about ALS and raise much needed funds to support research. The HOPES & DREAMSÔ Quilt Challenge for ALS was born. The challenge encourages quilters to design, sew and donate lap or bed quilts that are given to individuals with ALS. In addition, select quilts are sold to raise funds for ALS Research. Each individual donating a quilt is eligible to win great prizes.
“Each day is a mixed blessing of joy and sadness,” Thompson says. “I watch this most horrific disease take over my son Josh’s life, an then meet people like Pat, Diane and Debbie who drive here from Pennsylvania to hand-deliver over a hundred quilts. It’s their willingness to serve others in this way that truly makes hopes and dreams come to life.”
For 46 years Pat Matthews has been quilting with the last six years focused on using her sewing machine as a way to help others. Pat and her quilting buddies, Diane Wilson and Debbie Weaver, made the 314 mile journey from Dover, Pennsylvania to Virginia Beach just to deliver 108 quilts.
“We just can’t stop quilting,” laughs Matthews. “All of our children, families and friends have plenty of our quilts, so we now focus on sharing our passion with others who can use these quilts. Individuals with ALS often find their bodies get cold as they fight this disease and these quilts warm them and let them know they are loved.”
Pat, Diane and Debbie are part of a quilting group called the “Sew Happy Together Quilters.” The 13 women who make up this quilting group meet the second and fourth Wednesday of each month and sew together. They meet at the “barn” and many in the Dover area know this is the place unused fabric turns into creations of love.
“This barn is fabulous,” cheers Debbie Weaver. “Pat and her husband renovated an old barn into a two story place of beauty. The bottom floor is fitted with 10 sewing machines and all the comforts of home. Because we sew lots of quilts and walker bags for veterans and nursing homes, people in the community stop by the barn and drop off yard and yard of fabric knowing we will turn it into something good for someone else.”
“This is a magic barn,” says Matthews. “Our friends and other quilters drop off their pieced quilt tops and they suddenly become quilts,” she adds through laughter.
Ô Quilt Challenge for ALS that and her team at Quilter’s Dream BattingÒ coordinate annually.
“The staff here is incredible,” says Thompson. “They, along with each individual that makes and submits a quilt, embrace this challenge and the vision of supporting ALS research as if my son Josh were their own son, grandson or brother. It makes the heartache of this excruciating disease a little less painful.”
The 2012 HOPES & DREAMSÔ Quilt Challenge accepts quilts through July 30. Quilts received after this date will be accepted for the 2013 challenge year. All quilts are eligible for prizes with additional winners selected for the quilt best selecting the HOPES & DREAMSÔ theme, the quilt voted the “people chose,” and the individual, teacher and quilt group donating the most quilts. To see the entry form and learn how to participate visit the Quilter’s Dream BattingÒ website at www.QuiltersDreamBatting.com. You can also view photos of the quilts submitted for the challenge on the “Quilter’s DreamÒ Batting sponsoring Hopes & DreamsÔ Quilt Challenge for ALS” page on Facebook.
The HOPES & DREAMSÔ Quilt Challenge for ALS has received more than 2,000 quilts and raised more than $50,000 for ALS research from the ongoing sale of these quilts. If you are interested in purchasing a quilt for a family member, friend or even as a corporate gift, contact Kathy Thompson, Jane Kinzie or Jennifer Griffin at (757)-463-3264 or QuiltersDreamBatting@juno.com.
~The Dream Team