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news News Tuesday, March 20, 2018 Tuesday, March 20, 2018 10:51 AM - Tuesday, March 20, 2018 10:51 AM

Sew happy

A visit from Ryan's Case for Smiles

Sew happy

Ryan’s Case for Smiles is dedicated to bringing joy to children in hospitals, which is exactly what they did when they visited Shriners Hospitals for Children — Boston last month. The whirring of the sewing machines and the smiles on patients’ and parents’ faces alike provided a welcome and fun distraction in our clinic waiting area.

Formerly known as ConKerr Cancer, the organization creates and delivers whimsical pillowcases to young patients, providing them with an extra boost of emotional support during their hospital visit. Inspiration for the cause came from Ryan Kerr. Diagnosed with osteosarcoma at the age of 12, Ryan fought through five cancer recurrences, 30 months of chemotherapy, 15 surgeries, the amputation of his right leg, and over 150 hours of physical therapy.

To make his hospital room feel a little more like home, his mother Cindy Kerr would make him a pillowcase each time he went in for treatment. During a relapse, she extended this act of kindness to the rest of the children at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. She later shared the love with patients at another local hospital. Now, the organization is national. More than 120 chapters with thousands of volunteers spread joy to over 362 hospitals across the country. To date, 1,700,000 pillowcases have been delivered to kids experiencing some type of illness or injury, including at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Boston.

At this recent visit, children were delighted with the wide assortment of fabrics that were donated, depicting some of their favorite animals and cartoon characters. One patient, Naib, was excited to help a volunteer create his Mickey Mouse pillowcase, while another patient, Mila, happily watched as the Snow White fabric she had chosen was sewn together.

Patients helped the volunteers by putting the pins through the fabric to create the shape of the pillow. They were also able to easily participate in the assembly process by pushing the pedal that powered the sewing machine.

While making a pillowcase may seem like a simple activity, Ryan’s Case for Smiles believes that by bringing in colors and smiles to a hospital environment they reduce stress and remind patients that they are not defined by their illness or injury. The group also supports families by keeping a database of tools on its website to help families better cope. If you are interested in finding out more about Ryan’s Case for Smiles, you can visit caseforsmiles.org.

Patient shares in the joy of making a pillowcase during Ryan's Case for Smiles visit

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