Ginger Beasley and others at First Christian Church in Fulton are making a difference with an organization called Ryan's Case for Smiles (formerly ConKerr Cancer). The group's purpose is to make pillowcases for children who have a life-changing illness. The cozy, fun, bright designs are made with love and delivered with kindness, bringing moments of comfort to patients and their families.
It started when Ryan Kerr was diagnosed with osteosarcoma at the age of twelve. He endured five recurrences, 30 months of chemotherapy, 15 surgeries, the amputation of his right leg, and more than 150 days of physical therapy before the disease claimed his life. Through it all he kept his own spirits up and continuously inspired those around him. His mother Cindy was a quilter and decided to put her sewing skills to work to bring a little bit of fun, comfort, and hope to kids dealing with such difficult situations.
September is a special month for Smiles folks as they have a case-making drive called Miles of Pillowcase Smiles. During this month, the goal is to create 44,000 pillowcases to be distributed throughout the rest of the year. This number represents the number of children in the U.S. that are treated each year for some type of cancer.
This September is even more special as each chapter (and there are 115 of them in five countries!) will present a uniquely embroidered case to recognize the fact that they have distributed 1 million pillowcases worldwide.
The local chapter out of Columbia holds sewing workshops at First Christian Church and other locations, provides case kits to be assembled and returned, accepts donations of materials, collects contributions at a number of local businesses, works with several hospitals to get cases to kids, and even directs families to support resources. There are also Missouri chapters in St. Louis and near Branson.