Emmitsburg resident, Toni Marquette is a sarcoma cancer survivor. When in Baltimore going through radiation treatments and surgery at UMMC, she and her husband Gary stayed at the Hope Lodge located across the street from the Ronald McDonald House. Toni observed children leaving the Ronald McDonald House going for their radiation or chemotherapy treatments without any blankets covering their bodies. As anyone knows, who has undergone treatments, you are always cold. A program called Project Linus is part of the American Cancer Society. They ask for volunteers who can crochet, knit or quilt lap blankets for various hospitals throughout the Frederick and Howard County areas.
When Toni completed her treatment at UMMC, she wanted to do something for the children at UMMC cancer center, John’s Hopkins and York Children’s Hospital. Toni contacted Marlene Kultz, the coordinator of Project Linus to inquire on how she could become part of this effort in crocheting blankets. She makes bright happy color blankets for premies, young children, and pre-adult/teenagers. The blankets are distributed to the cancer centers, and upon completion of treatments, the children are able to take the blanket home.
Toni has received many thank you notes from both the children, and personal thanks from the hospital for each beautiful blanket received. It is very fulfilling for her. Toni said the notes from the kids are so cute and heartwarming. “This is a commitment I’ve made to Project Linus to ‘pay it forward.’ I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.”
Toni has been crocheting blankets for Project Linus for eight years. She averages twelve blankets per year, depending on size, pattern, and stitch. In between Project Linus blankets, Toni crochets blankets for neighbors and family. Even when she and her husband, Gary, travel, she takes her project with her.
Toni said, “If you know anyone going through cancer, you have to understand that they aren’t just fighting for themselves, they are fighting for their family and loved ones. The caregivers and family members suffer right along with the person going through the journey.”
Toni said, “My grandmother gave to St. Jude’s Hospital all of her life. As a young person, I didn’t understand the meaning of her donations, but it was instilled in us children to give to St. Jude. As kids, we just thought St. Jude was a statue that my grandmother prayed to. We didn’t know the meaning of St. Jude until becoming adults. People are so busy with their lives that we don’t have time to sit back and think about cancer until it hits. When cancer hit my family, it was a ricocheting effect. Beginning with me, my cousin who is a breast cancer survivor, and her nephew, a testicular survivor. We supported each other by phone, messages through email, and on Facebook.”
The Project Linus coordinators have a list of the needs for blankets in the different areas. Jeane Evans, out of Columbia, Maryland, is Toni’s local coordinator. However, Frederick Memorial Hospital has several Project Linus volunteers as well.
Lori Frey is head of ACS in this area. She hosts Relay for Life Events and Radio-thons throughout Frederick county. Lori and her staff of helpers are always there to assist those going through cancer treatments, the caregivers, and family and friends in any way. Go to www.projectlinus.org or visit the American Cancer Society at www.cancer.org.
Toni Marquette is shown working on a blanket for Project Linus.