By Paula Adamson for The Island Connection
Ryan’s Case for Smiles (formerly ConKerr Cancer) was founded in 2007 to bring comfort and support to young patients and their families in hospitals around the country with bright, cheery pillowcases. It was founded by Cindy Kerr to honor her teenage son who died from cancer, but he found comfort in the themed pillowcases his mother made for him while in the hospital. Ten years later, this mission has spread all over the country, with over 50,000 children helped annually, over 362 hospitals participating, over 40 million volunteer hours donated, and over 1.6 million pillowcases donated and counting. Today, the programs have expanded to include the children’s entire families so they can better navigate and cope with a very difficult experience and avoid long term emotional trauma. To ensure the highest quality care, Ryan’s Case for Smiles has partnered with PTSD experts at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Nemours/Alfred I. DuPont Hospital for Children to create valuable web-based information and tools designed for each member of the family’s unique experience. Recent research indicates 20% of children who are hospitalized with cancer and 30% of their mothers suffer full symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, comparable to that experienced by U.S. Vietnam War Veterans. Locally, a chapter of Ryan’sCase for Smiles was formed 8 years ago by Kiawah Island resident Shirley Salvo, who gathered a band of volunteers to provide pillowcases for patients at MUSC Children’s Hospital, as well as seeking donations for materials. MUSC Children’s is a very busy hospital with about 130 daily admissions. To date, this small group of local women from John’s Island, Kiawah Island, Seabrook Island and other local areas, have made over 10,000 pillowcases for the children at MUSC. Two Wednesdays a month you will find these dedicated women cutting, ironing, pinning, sewing, washing and packaging the pillowcases.
When the monthly delivery of at least 100 pillowcases takes place, the hospital nurses are always thrilled to get and distribute them.
For more information on this project, please go to Ryan’s Case for Smiles on the internet.