As Told by the Founder
In early 2015, I moved 10,000 miles away to Australia to pursue a career in soccer. While living there, I began to use my free time to volunteer for charities supporting kids in the hospital. I was fortunate to meet amazing kids like Sophie (pictured right), who was 4 years old and battling neuroblastoma. At a time in her life when she should be playing with dolls and meeting new friends, Sophie was taking trips to the hospital to battle one of the toughest forms of childhood cancer.
This meant many rounds of difficult chemotherapy treatments involving multiple overnight stays in the hospital, yet she always had beaming smile on her face when I saw her. I was working daily with kids like Sophie going through hospital treatments, and like anything you invest your time in, the inspiration to help grew heavy on my heart.
As I was traveling home to Michigan in late 2015, I landed in California and received a text message from my twin sister, a pediatric oncology nurse at Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, MI. She said, “When you have some free time, you should make a blanket for a kid in the hospital.” Being an aggressively curious person, I asked more questions. “How many blankets do you need? How often do you need them?”
Her answers back to me were, “We ALWAYS need blankets. They dramatically change the hospital environment. We NEVER have enough.” I was scratching my head in confusion that one of the best children’s hospitals in the country didn’t have enough of something they needed. I called every other unit at her hospital, and I got the same answers. I then called every hospital in Michigan that served kids under age 18, and I found the SAME answers.
This is where the idea for Fleece & Thank You began.
Our true impact is best described by telling you a story.
The Story of Our Impact
After I share this story, I am going to ask for your help to change the ending.
Like all the best tales, this story has a hero in it. A hero is typically on a journey of some kind, encounters an obstacle, and finds a way to prevail.
We will call our hero, Chloe, and we will say Chloe is 11 years old. Chloe has had a pain in the back of her knee for a couple weeks, and she finally tells her mom about it. Her parents decide to take her to the hospital, and after several hours of x-rays and tests, doctors are giving Chloe and her family a cancer diagnosis.
Minutes later, they are walking Chloe into a room to start treatment. This is where she meets the villain of the story, because every hero has a villain. The villain in this story is the scary hospital room: cold, white sheets, plain beige wallpaper, and beeping monitors.
We are asking Chloe to beat an illness, and she already feels defeated just by entering the hospital room. Couple this intimidating atmosphere with the reality that, for the first couple weeks, family and friends will call, visit, and message, but after a while, many people will go back to their daily routine, often forgetting to check-in. Many kids like Chloe will start to feel like they are battling their illness all alone.
And here is where I need your help.
I believe we can change this story for kids like Chloe, the true heroes, by giving them a sidekick. That sidekick is a colorful comfortable Fleece & Thank You blanket along with a friend that sent them a video message.
Through our blanket-making program, we are on a mission to make sure that every child just like Chloe gets guaranteed color and comfort in the form of a fleece blanket when they begin their hospital stay. Even more than color and comfort, we also believe that every child deserves connection.
Every Fleece & Thank You blanket we provide also has a personal video message attached to it from the blanket maker to the recipient in the hospital, who can then send a “thank-you” message back to the maker. We connect our blanket makers directly to the patient in the hospital that receives the comfort they make. Through our program, you can help be the sidekick that our heroes need.
For many of our patients and their families, this is a room they do not want to be in and a diagnosis they do not understand. It’s not their bed, not their sheets, not their pillow, and not their “normal.” We can give these kids and their families one of the first reasons to smile during an uncertain time, one of the first reasons to have hope when they see something bright and colorful waiting for them on the bed. We hope you will join us by making your Fleece & Thank You blanket and video message today!
Nicholas Kristock, Founder and Executive Director
Ready to comfort hearts and create smiles?
Our work truly takes a village, and we would love to have you join the effort!