Honestly, I knew this day would come. The day we would announce that an event other than our home show, Stitches Midwest
, would have the most hats donated to Halos of Hope. But when the Midwest volunteers brought in 1,037 hats, nearly tripling their 2012 donated amount…I didn't think it would be this year.
Then, Drew Emborsky, aka The Crochet Dude™,
announced his Chemo Cap Challenge to bring his 2012-2013 Man of the Year reign to a close. Michele Muska and The Boye Needle company
offered not only to accept hats sent prior to the event, but also to pick up the shipping to the centers in the Northeast for all hats donated as part of the challenge. We watched as Stitches East
attendees brought one hat or two, or dozens, to the show floor. Michele told us that her son, Logan, was still counting the ones mailed in advance. We knew the number would be big. We just didn't know how big.
Pam with Drew Emborsky and Michelle Muska
Saturday afternoon. We decided to use a lull in the Market activity for a photo opportunity. At that point we had close to 500 hats on the show floor alone, and Logan was still counting at home.
Then we met Phyllis. This brave, beautiful and balding woman came by interested in the bustle around our booth. A resident of the USVI, Phyllis found out about her cancer diagnosis while stateside. I cannot imagine what it must be like to be going through treatments so far from home. The least we could do was offer her a hat. Like most, she demurred, thinking of the others who might need one far more than she. But then, "that yellow one," she said.
There it was. The moment when it doesn't matter how many hats are donated. In that one moment, Phyllis found her own "happy hat." As she says it, "it just makes me happy and I look so much better." In that one moment, her yellow hat made a difference in her day. In that one moment, the dozens of people around our booth at Stitches East experienced exactly what we believe, heart and soul, day-in-and-day-out. We don't always get to meet the brave survivors like Phyllis. But we know that all over the country, a volunteer-donated hat is helping someone just like her.
Pam and Phyllis with her "Happy Hat"
So, you ask, what was that final count?
You read that correctly, one-thousand-five-hundred and eight hats.
It took every fiber of my being to stand on the Student Banquet stage Saturday night, not break into tears, and tell a packed room of knitters and crocheters that Stitches East set a new record. We already helped Phyllis. We were about to help 1,507 additional men, women and children who needed the comfort of a hand-crafted cap.
We also announced our Person of the Year for 2013-2014, and, as you might have already guessed, our Board selected Drew for a second year in a row. He claims that his few minutes on the stage
didn't make sense, but here is something he did say…I'll paraphrase. "The real heroes among us are each and every one of you who took the time to make a hat to donate or gives a dollar to ship a few hats." Drew, I couldn't agree more.
Halos of Hope's 2013-2014 Man of the Year
And he shared with us again, something he has said throughout the entire Challenge. "When God shines a spotlight on you, you should always stand next to someone who needs it. (Oprah Winfrey)"
We thank each and every person who helped us to shine a light and stand up for people like Phyllis and all the other cancer survivors who will received one of the hats donated at as part of this challenge. Your generosity will help someone to find their own, special, "happy hat."
Editor's note: Please help us to thank Boye Needle for covering the shipping of the over 1,500 hats to cancer centers in the Northeast after the Stitches East show. Shipping is Halos of Hope's biggest expense, and we appreciate their support!