Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Ties that Bind!

"Our human compassion binds us the one to the other - not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learned how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future." 
~ Nelson Mandela
This past Saturday, August 17, was a big day for Hopes & Dreams.  As the morning fog was lifting in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Mary Anne Fitzgerald, owner of Mary Anne's Antiques & Things Quilt Shop in Covington, Virginia was busy turning the banquet room of a local church into a quilting room for the day.
Covington is a small city totaling 6 square miles and is nestled in the middle of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Southwest, Virginia.  Here's a fun fact for you - from a distance the mountains look blue and are that way due to the trees, from the isoprene released into the atmosphere, thereby contributing to the characteristic haze on the mountains and their distinctive color.
Mary Anne invited us to visit, so we did.  Armed with sewing machine (which ended up being used by a volunteer who pieced rail fence quilt blocks for PALS - persons with ALS) the beautiful scenic drive was topped only by the beauty of the town's generosity in supporting the day-long Hopes & Dreams Sew-A-Thon.
We shared lots of laughs.  Mary Anne (standing in the above photo) invited the entire town to participate and Mayor Tom Sibold, Jr. (sitting) accepted the invitation.  He was determined to piece together one full block and received some assistance from fellow quilt volunteer Deborah Broughman (sitting to the right of the Mayor with 'seam ripper' in hand!).
Not to be outdone, J.B. Broughman (above), Covington's City Manager and Police Chief, showed up and learned how to sew that perfect quarter inch himself.  There was a lot of 'stripping' going on, as well as pinning, pressing and binding.  We even learned how to tie a quilt using multiple needles and a whole lot of string.
And there was a lot of reflection - about life.  What we learned in the course of sharing quilting lessons is that one of the ladies excited about participating in the Sew-A-Thon died suddenly the week before the event.  We learned through some tears that in the past five years two of the ladies in the group lost their husbands to ALS.  And in talking with the Police Chief we discovered that his uncle, who helped raise him after his father's passing when he was 12-years old, also suffered and passed away recently from Lou Gehrig's disease.
With the help from co-worker Gina Thompson, we tried to capture the day through pictures and interviews and put it all together in this You Tube video.

We left Saturday evening with a backseat filled with quilts for PALS and lifelong ties that bind us together in our common goal of creating awareness and much needed research funding for a treatment and cure to ALS.  We were fortunate that the journey back home was pleasant, except for one detour and even that made us smile.  (Do you see the coffee pot?)

Like a good cup of coffee, the 12-hour Sew-A-Thon in Covington, Virginia was rich, warm and filled with plenty of strong support for finding a cure for ALS - one quilt at a time. 

Hopes & Dreams Quilt Challenge for ALS

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