Thursday, March 27, 2014

Bluebird of Happiness Smile Upon You

What a happy mail week it has been.  Lots of packages filled with Hopes & Dreams quilts from all over the United States.  Each package containing one or more quilts to help us reach our goal of 1,000 quilts by July 31, 2014.

The envelopes addressed to Hopes & Dreams bring special messages of appreciation, like the card above from Darla and Denny Luper of Shermans Dale, Pennsylvania.  

The card reads, "Dear Ladies - Many thanks to you for your kindness. One of your beautiful quilts was given to my husband, who was diagnosed with ALS on August 22, 2013, at Hershey ALS Clinic. What a wonderful, wonderful gift of love.  May God Bless each and everyone of you.  Your quilt will be put to good use and we love sharing your story with family and friends as we show them the awesome quilt you made. With love and gratitude, Darla and Denny Lupfer."
Then we received an enveloped addressed to Hopes & Dreams that contained this little gem!

The address says SECOR of Saint Charles, Illinois and had this cute 5.5" unfinished quilt block inside. We asked quilters in honor of International Quilting Day to make any block of their choice with the only rule being that it be 5.5" unfinished.  And you are!

We received these 5.5" unfinished blocks earlier in the week from Bunny Filer of Mahomet, Illinois.  All the blocks will be sashed and quilted into a Hopes & Dreams Community Quilt and auctioned off with 100% of the proceeds going to ALS Research.

The next envelope of quilt goodness arrived in a much larger package filled with several goodies.

We included a new category in this years Hopes & Dreams Quilt Challenge for ALS - "Sew Creative" - because so many of you enjoy making small quilts and table runners, wall hangings, candle mats, etc.  This lovely 16.5" x 21" wall hanging was made by Sara McGinnis of Avon, Indiana.  Sara shared that she used Boldover Batiks to make the wallhanging based on Freida Anderson's pattern "Summer Afternoon." 

Sara sent a lovely note that reads:

"Thank you so much for providing a way for me to contribute to finding a cure for ALS and for your continuing advocacy and fundraising efforts.  My husband was diagnosed with ALS in 2007 and, as he jokingly says, he knows he is playing on house money.  He says the worst thing ALS has done to him is to take away his laugh, but it can't take away his sense of humor.  He is the 'Head Chieftain' of the Kilted Warriors ALS Walk Team in Indianapolis and our team won the National Spirit Award in 2012 due to his cheerleading and finding a way to make everyone at the walk laugh.  While he is dependent on caregiving he makes every effort to enjoy life and smack talk sports with his friends (and he is loving the NCAA right now).

When he saw I was making this wall hanging for Hopes & Dreams, he looked up your website and immediately said we need to send Josh a beer coozie and a pin and magnet for his Mom.  For the last several years at the Irish Fest, he has had to drink a Guinness through a straw but now he says he may be reduced to having a sip or two through the feeding tube.

I have also enclosed a 5.5" square with a spring theme.  I pinned a few music notes in case you'd like to sew the strip across the sashing.  I made a Bluebird because I decided everyone needs a Bluebird of happiness. Best Regards, Bob and Sara McGinnis."

Yes, Sara - everyone needs a Bluebird of happiness.  Ours arrived today in the form of a package from you!

If you are interested in making and donating a small quilted item (tablerunner, candle mat, placemats, wallhanging, quilted bag) to the Hopes & Dreams Quilt Challenge for ALS, or even making a 5.5" unfinished quilt block for the Hopes & Dreams Community Quilt, you can send them to:

Hopes & Dreams
c/o Quilters Dream Batting
589 Central Drive
Virginia Beach, VA  23454

Your grateful Hopes & Dreams Coordinator

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Finding a Cure for ALS - One Quilt at a Time!: GOOD NEWS about ALS Research!

Finding a Cure for ALS - One Quilt at a Time!: GOOD NEWS about ALS Research!: Okay, I admit it.  I am not a brain surgeon.  I'm a former radio/TV reporter, public relations/communications director who now enjoys qu...

GOOD NEWS about ALS Research!

Okay, I admit it.  I am not a brain surgeon.  I'm a former radio/TV reporter, public relations/communications director who now enjoys quilting, is an avid music & art lover, and a fan of any and everyone who likes helping other people.  I am blessed to coordinate the Hopes & Dreams Quilt Challenge for ALS and know that each quilt donated gives HOPE to our DREAMS of a CURE!

Quick recap for those who may just be learning about Hopes & Dreams.  It was created by Kathy Thompson and Juanita Kelly after their son/grandson was diagnosed with ALS.  The goals of the challenge are to give hope to a person living with ALS (affectionately known as a "PAL") by giving them the gift of a quilt, while also raising money through the sale of quilts for much needed ALS Research.

Thousands have embraced this challenge and in the first four years have given more than 3,300 quilts to a PAL, and have been a part of donating more than $80,000 to ALS Research.  And today, I am happy to say there is really good news on the ALS Research front.

Dr. Eva Feldman, MD, PhD
Meet Dr. Eva Feldman, MD, PhD, Director of the A. Alfred Taubman Medical Reserach Institute, Director of Research of the ALS Clinic at the University of Michigan Health System.  Dr. Feldman is soft spoken, compassionate and cares about people suffering with ALS.  Don't believe me, watch this video.

Dr. Feldman is the principle investigator for the Neuralstem Phase I Stem Cell Trial in ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) know by most as Lou Gehrig's Disease.  What is that?  I think I'll let the brain surgeon explain.

The final results of this trial have been published in the peer-reviewed journal, "Annals of Neurology.  The Wall Street Journal printed the press release on the results which you can read here.  The release states, in part -

"In "Intraspinal Neural Stem Cell Transplantation in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis: Phase I Trial Outcomes," results were updated from Phast I interim data, reported earlier, to include data from the last six patients in the trial.  These six patients were the first to receive cervical stem cell transplants.  Three of them were also the first to be transplanted along the length of their spines, in both the lumbar and the cervical regions.  The results showed that NSI-566 human spinal cord stem cells can be safely transplanted in both the lumbar and cervical spine cord segments, did not accelerate disease progression, and warrant further study on dosing and therapeutic efficacy.  Furthermore, the researchers were able to identify potential therapeutic windows, suggesting that more injections, as well as multiple injections, are better and may increase both the length and the magnitude of the potential benefits.  This is consistent with the hypothesized neuroprotective mechanism-of-action for this cell therapy."

I'm not a brain surgeon.  But what I read is, (1) there is a "safe" way to transplant neural stem cells into the lumbar and cervical spine cord segments (the surgery did not harm the ALS patients), (2) that the transplant "did not" cause any acceleration in the progression of ALS in the patients (the stem cells did not increase muscle weakness), and (3) the results showed improvements in patients and the results suggest that additional stem cell transplants may help continue to provide, 'preserved strength and preserved function' of muscles in ALS patients at Dr. Feldman referred to in the video above.

Phase II is now underway at the University of Michigan, as well as two additional sites - Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts.

You need to know that Hopes & Dreams quilts have been given to some of these patients at the University of Michigan and we will most certainly share quilts with patients at Emory University Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital.

Your time, talents and treasures are surely making a difference.  You are giving the gift of HOPE to OUR DREAMS of a CURE!

We will have more on this research in the days ahead.  Stay tuned.

Your Grateful Hopes & Dreams Coordinator

Thursday, March 13, 2014


"Energy and persistence conquer all things." ~ Benjamin Franklin

Five years.  

The Hopes & Dreams Quilt Challenge for ALS is five years old.  When Kathy Thompson, Juanita Kelly and the staff at Quilters Dream Batting started the challenge they hoped to receive 100 quilts in the first year. They received 1,500 quilts.  

In the next three years to follow, Hopes & Dreams has given more than 3,300 quilts to "PALS" - people living with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) - through a relationship with ALS Chapters across the country that is more like a wonderful friendship than service project.

In the fourth year, the Hopes & Dreams Quilt Challenge for ALS became an official 501(c)3 non-profit called Hopes and Dreams, Inc., and has been blessed to be able to give more than $80,000 to ALS Research.  Research that is helping to create the technology to successfully implant stem cells into ALS patients without any adversity, offering the hope of treatment.

Five years.  

As Benjamin Franklin knew, sometimes it may take a little while for sparks to ignite and light the flame of energy and persistence, but when it comes, it is a force to behold.  For the Hopes & Dreams Quilt Challenge for ALS, a new spark has been lit and the energy resulting from that spark is exciting.

Earlier this year we asked quilt shops and quilt guilds across the U.S. to help us with the Hopes & Dreams Quilt Challenge for ALS and many immediately jumped on board.  These shops are having Sewathons and special Quilt Drives for Hopes & Dreams and we are thrilled.

Two quilt shop owners called and told us that they had seen the Hopes & Dreams Entry Forms inside Quilters Dream Batting, and honestly had not paid much attention to it.  But for them, this year the challenge hit home.

Susan Pettengill with The Joyful Quilter Quilt Shop in Glenville, New York and Sharon Kaiser with Quilt-N-Bee Quilt Shop in Traverse City, Michigan have both lost a loved one to ALS.  

Alden Pettengill
Meet Alden Pettengill, Susan Pettengill's cousin.  Susan told us she wanted to be a part of Hopes & Dreams to honor her cousin who died of ALS.  Susan writes, "My cousin, Alden, had an incredible passion for life and adventure.  I will always remember him as strong and athletic, with a very kind and loving spirit.  His legacy continues on through the Alden Pettingill Foundation, started by his family after his death.  In some small way, I hope The Joyful Quilter's support of the Hopes & Dreams Quilt Challenge for ALS honors his memory and helps other families like his."

Meet Cheryl, Sharon Kaiser's neice, who died of ALS at the age of 50.  Sharon wrote that Cheryl was always willing to share her gifts with others and that she wanted to participate in Hopes & Dreams to share that with families who also have a loved one living with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis).  Sharon writes, "One of the last things I did with and for my neice was to finish a quilt for her middle son.  Cheryl had chosen McKenna Ryan patterns for the blocks and combined them into a quilt which depicted her love for her son and Colorado.  I had thought that ALS was a rare disease, until it hit our family.  I now realize just how rampant this disease is and anything I can do to fight this disease will be a triumph for Cheryl and all who suffer from this terrible disease."

Susan and Sharon decided they wanted to take their mutual passion to conquer ALS to a different level - and thus the "SPLISH SPLASH QUILT BASH" is born.

This is the first time two quilt shops have created teams of quilters to see who can make and donate the most quilts and quilted items to the Hopes & Dreams Quilt Challenge.  While the 'official' start date is May 1st, the enthusiasm for this challenge with quilters in Glenville, New York and Traverse City, Michigan has already begun and quilts are already being donated.  Susan said on the phone recently, "We would love to send you an 18-wheeler loaded with quilts."  [All joking aside, we would LOVE them!]

This challenge has lead to yet another.  Talking with Susan and Sharon is such a blessing and well, the 'fun' lead to another challenge - they decided to go after me!  Well, I (Jennifer, your Hopes & Dreams Coordinator) accepted the challenge and in year six - it will be the "Splish Splash Quilt Bash" between the States of New York, Michigan, and our Hopes & Dreams "home" State of Virginia.

Yes, you read that right.  Three States, three 'anchor' quilt shops - now to include Sew E-Z Quilt Shop and it's owner Freida Doubts here in Virginia Beach, Virginia - working to encourage as many quilt shops and quilt guilds and individual quilters in their states to make and donate quilts and quilted items to Hopes & Dreams.

And we couldn't be more excited.

What about you?  Would you like to be an 'anchor' quilt shop in your home state, or be a 'Hopes & Dreams Ambassador' for your state and try to be a part of our challenge that will begin August 1, 2014 and continue through July 31st, 2015?  YES!  Then give us a call toll-free at (888) 268-8664 or email us at and say you want to take part in the "Splish Splash Quilt Bash."  We will send you the challenge rules and help you generate some excitement in your state.

Energy and Persistence.  Together it gives HOPE to our DREAMS of a CURE for ALS!
Your Grateful Hopes & Dreams Coordinator

Monday, March 10, 2014

With Thanks!

I have to say I have THE best job working with caring and talented co-workers, and getting to touch and feel the artwork of thousands of quilters across the United States (and Belgium and Australia!).  The quilts you are donating to the 2014 Hopes & Dreams Quilt Challenge for ALS are coming in daily and soon my desk will have it's own walls made of brown and white boxes!

U.S. Postal Service and UPS Boxes will with Hopes & Dreams quilts (plus a few delivered in person!).

On occasion the mailman brings letters that touch our hearts.  They may be addressed to "The Dream Team," "Hopes & Dreams," and even "Kathy Thompson and Juanita Kelly," but they are for YOU, too!

Like this lovely floral card from Rita Straub.  Rita sent her note to Kathy and Juanita, mom and grandmother to Josh Thompson.  Rita writes -

"Dear Kathy and Juanita - My husband, Hank Stroub, has been diagnosed with ALS.  Barbara Goscho, the Pastoral Care Counselor at the Milton Hershey Medical Center Neurology Department, presented my husband with a lovely quilt made by you and your Dream Team.  It was very cold the day of his appointment and the quilt kept his legs toasty.  He's been using it ever since.  Thank you for the quilt and for all you do to support the ALS cause.  Sincerely, Rita Stroub."

YOU are a part of the Dream Team.  And also made the day of another "PAL" - person living with ALS.

This card is from Mary Gray of Rockford, Illinois.  Mary writes -

"To Hopes & Dreams Quilters, Thank you so much for the quilt.  It was hard to grasp my diagnosis which was last November.  I am enjoying the quilt - it is so beautiful.  Thank you for your thoughtfulness.  God Bless you, Mary Gray."

The Hopes & Dreams Quilt Challenge for ALS challenge year runs August 1 and ends July 31st of the next year.  After we have photographed, posted on Facebook, and cataloged each quilt received, we send a note to all of the ALS Chapters across the U.S. and let them know we are ready to send them as many quilts as they would like.  Some Chapters actually ask for quilts year-round and we ship them the number of quilts desired at the expense of Quilters Dream Batting.  Many ALS Chapters enjoy receiving dozens of quilts around Thanksgiving and Christmas to share during holiday parties and home visits.  One of the ALS Chapters that always looks forward to receiving Hopes & Dreams quilts is the Florida Chapter.

They sent this Thank You note that reads:

"Thank you for the Quilts with Hopes & Dreams of a cure for ALS.  From: ALS Association Florida Chapter - Central Florida Region in The Villages, Florida."  If you read the notes on the right hand of the card you will see several PALS who sent along their thanks for the quilt they received that keeps them warm.

So, let me add my THANK YOU as well.  One of my favorite sayings is, "There is not enough darkness in the world to extinguish the light of one small flame."  Your time, talents and treasures to make a quilt to give to another is that flame of hope and love that can never be extinguished!

Your blessed and grateful Hopes & Dreams Coordinator

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Quilts, Quilts, Quilts at Mid Atlantic Quilt Show!

The 25th Annual Mid Atlantic Quilt Show in Hampton, Virginia has come and gone and - whew!  We met so many lovely people, some who we know, and others who were introduced to Quilters Dream Batting and the Hopes & Dreams Quilt Challenge for ALS for the very first time.

Quilt Junkie's

There were family members and friends who let their love of quilting show through in their clothing, like the "Quilt Junkie's" shown above.  

And those who had jewelry to match most every quilting necessity.

We met friends who returned to the Quilters Dream Batting booth several times until they each had their own Hopes & Dreams Quilt to commemorate the quilt show and their friendships.

100% of the proceeds of each Hopes & Dreams quilt sold, and each fat quarter sized piece of Quilters Dream Batting sold, goes to ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) Research.  

We are extremely grateful for everyone who came by the Quilters Dream Batting booth.  You brought laughter, your testimonials on how much you like Quilters Dream Batting, and you even brought more Hopes & Dreams quilts for people living with ALS to our booth.  For those that did not have a chance to go the Mid Atlantic Quilt Show, we did sneak away from the booth for a short time to take photos of some of the winning quilts.  

If you have a quilt you would like to donate to the Hopes & Dreams Quilt Challenge for ALS, send them to:

Hopes & Dreams
c/o Quilters Dream Batting
589 Central Drive
Virginia Beach, VA  23454

Want more information on Hopes & Dreams, visit:

Your Grateful Hopes & Dreams Coordinator