Each year, thousands of children in the U.S. suffer from cancer. According to the American Childhood Cancer Organization, every 1 in 285 children will be diagnosed before their 20th birthday. People like Betsy Mauro do their best to provide support to the kids who have to face this. Mauro has spent years making fleece, no-sew blankets for cancer patients to donate to Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital.
In 2010, when her son Chris was 17, he was diagnosed with leukemia. After getting treatment at All Children’s Hospital, completing chemotherapy, and being in remission for a year and a half, the cancer returned. In November of 2015, Chris passed away. Mauro continues to make blankets in honor of her son, who received a blanket during the early stages of his battles with cancer. It went with him to every hospital visit. Now, eight years later, Mauro keeps that blanket as a memory of the time she spent with her son.
Holiday Blankets for Cancer Patients
Mauro works as a seventh grade math teacher at Pinellas Preparatory Academy in Largo. Across the three schools she has worked at following her son’s death, she has brought this project to the kids each year.
“It’s amazing how willing and excited they are to do it,” said Mauro. “We always do them around Thanksgiving so they can be sanitized and the hospital can get them for Christmas.”
The first year, Mauro and her family supplied the cancer ward with blankets. This year, they set their sights on at least 120 blankets.
“This made a safe haven in my classroom. My students can support other kids, or family members with cancer,” said Mauro. “It may just be blankets, but it’s so important for these kids to know that someone cares about them and is thinking about them.”
Right before losing her son, Mauro published a book through Amazon called It’s Okay to Laugh: A mother and son’s journey with cancer. The book covers the struggles the family went through, but how remaining positive is necessary to get through them.
“The day we were told they couldn’t do more to help, we were devastated. I went to go pick my youngest son up from school, because I knew it was more important for him to spend time with his brother,” said Mauro. “When I got back, [Chris] had the whole family in the hospital room laughing their heads off watching a South Park marathon.”
Mauro’s positivity shines brightly as she provides these kids with a blanket to keep them warm when everything seems cold.
“If people want to donate blankets or toys to All Children’s, they’re always looking for them,” said Mauro. “If people want to give me fleece for next year, I will happily sit on it and prepare.”
To donate fleece, reach out to Betsy at firstname.lastname@example.org.