Valley Girls and Guys blankets offer comfort

Tina McDonough pointed to her head then her heart as she described the impact of delivering dozens of blankets to cancer patients around the world since February.

Tina McDonough pointed to her head then her heart as she described the impact of delivering dozens of blankets to cancer patients around the world since February.

“I have 129 stories here and here,” McDonough said.

It began when one of the women who joined the Valley Girls & Guys team to walk with her friends two years ago, Angelina, found out her sister was diagnosed in February. She contacted McDonough and others from the team — the group of more than 100 strong walks the annual Susan G. Komen 3 Day Walk for the Cure which covers 60 miles in three days.

McDonough contacted Tracy Kudrna, a breast cancer survivor, for guidance.

“I asked her what was something she received while she was in chemo that was a saving grace for her,” McDonough said. “She said her book club sent a blanket and they all signed it.” It is also personalized, she said, and also says, “Valley Girls & Guys walk for you.”

McDonough thought of Walmart because she orders photo mugs for the 3 Day team through the retail store. She got online, picked out a blanket and put a Valley Girls & Guys photo on it, then selected a quote she hoped would be inspiring to recipients, “Nothing is impossible, the word itself says I am possible.”

The blanket for Angelina’s sister, Jenny, who lives in Oklahoma, was ordered.

Before the first team’s first meeting, McDonough said, she told all the walkers to bring $2, even if it was eight quarters or 200 pennies. Then she brought the blanket for Angelina’s sister to that meeting.

“Angelina did not know exactly what we were doing, so we presented her the blanket,” McDonough said. “Angelina was bawling. We had her sister’s address and we sent it out the next day.”

After the first blanket, McDonough said, she was inspired.

“I decided this is what we want to do,” McDonough said. “We wanted to do more than just walk 60 miles and be more than Susan G. Komen. I told the team every time we meet we’re going to have two buckets. One is going to be for a blanket fund and the other is going to be for a scholarship fund.”

McDonough sent out the first blanket Feb. 7. She didn’t think there would be many after that but then it just snowballed. Word about the blanket spread and requests started coming in to McDonough via Facebook and email.

Each blanket costs $44 then there is the price tag for shipping which can range from $5.80 for the Puget Sound region to more than $50 for the few that were sent to other countries such as Ireland and Germany.

Not only have the blankets gone all over the world, they have gone to patients with all different types of cancers and all ages, McDonough said.

“Of the 129 blankets our youngest has been a 5-year-old and our oldest has been an 81-year-old,” McDonough said. “We had five blankets that we ordered that did not make it in time so they have been gifted to family.”

McDonough said she was immensely grateful to Karen and Michael Crowe, who hosted a Bunco for Blankets fundraiser in August which generated $3,000 that paid for a number of the blankets but by late November there was no cash left due to the demand.

She went on vacation for 10 days and when she returned, McDonough said, there were requests for seven more blankets and a few more came in not long after but no money was left to pay for them.

Then on Dec. 16, McDonough got word that Valley Girls & Guys would receive a $2,000 grant, followed up by an official email Dec. 20.

“The Walmart Foundation and Facility # 5073 are pleased to inform you that your organization has been selected to receive a grant through the Local Facility Giving Program in the amount of $2,000,” the email stated, according to information McDonough posted on Facebook. “We believe that your organization is doing important work to the communities you serve, and we are proud that we are able to support you in your efforts.”

When she found out that money was coming in, McDonough said, she ordered the 10 blankets but in the meantime a fund was set up for donations to the this project.

“If you know somebody who has everything and you want to honor them, donate a blanket in their name,” McDonough said. “You can donate the $44 for the blanket or whatever amount is meaningful for you. It just takes it to the next level and to know that all of these people are walking 60 miles in your honor … to me is just huge.”

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