Thu. Jun 30th, 2022

Last Thursday, WCU students and volunteers for the ConKerr Cancer organization gathered in Sykes Ballroom to sew pillowcases for children who have been diagnosed with cancer.

Dave Parsons, senior at WCU and Vice President of Membership of the Alpha Phi Omega community service fraternity, organized the event.  He said at last year’s ConKerr Cancer event at WCU, students and volunteers sewed 142 pillowcases.  In a follow-up e-mail after the event, he was ecstatic to tell The Quad that they nearly doubled last year’s number.

“Wanted to let your reporter know we made over 275 pillow cases!!!!!” he said.

The atmosphere at the event was cheerful.  Students were greeted by smiling faces as they walked in.  An assortment of fabric with a host of different patterns was laid out on the right side of the room and students were allowed to choose which one they wanted to use.  On the opposite side of the room, sewing machines were lined up, where volunteers happily assisted students, most of whom were not familiar with sewing.

One of those volunteers was Helen Turner.  Turner graduated from WCU in 1963 and has volunteered for ConKerr Cancer for eight years.  She described her time spent with the organization as “highly rewarding.”

“I love to see the looks on their faces when the kids get their pillowcases,” she said.

ConKerr Cancer was founded by Cindy Kerr.  Kerr’s son, Ryan, was diagnosed with cancer as a child in 2002.  To console Ryan and the other children in the Oncology Unit at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Kerr decided to start sewing pillowcases for them.  From there, her idea grew to become the international organization that ConKerr Cancer is today.

In their Annual Report for 2013, Kerr wrote that the organization gave pillowcases to more than 50,000 children throughout North America. More than 190,000 pillowcases were delivered in 2013, which was a staggering 20,000 more than the amount delivered in 2012.

She concluded her statement in the annual report by expressing her gratitude to all of the organization’s volunteers.

“I wish to express my admiration and thanks to our chapter coordinators, volunteers, and donors who continue to make a real difference,” she said. “They are truly what makes ConKerr, ‘A Case for Smiles.’”

For more information about volunteering, donating, or anything else related to the organization, readers can visit

Chris Cox is a fourth-year student majoring in English. He can be reached at

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