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Students craft blankets to comfort Ohio State cancer patients

Jennifer Jung / Lantern reporter

Ohio State’s College of Medicine students made no-sew fleece blankets during the second annual Buckeye Blanket Bash that benefited the patients of Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

Students and families who visited campus made blankets and cards that will be delivered to patients next week. The event, from 1:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday at the RPAC Amphitheater, had live music and free food.

Christopher Esber, one of the co-founders of Buckeye Blanket Bash and a third-year graduate student in medicine, brought this project to OSU from his undergraduate experience at the University of Notre Dame.

“When I was a sophomore, my roommate Aidan Fitzgerald was diagnosed with testicular cancer,” Esber said. “Aidan had taken off the whole year and went to the treatment in Indianapolis. My friends and I decided to do something for him during his treatment.”

Esber said he and his friend started the “Aidan project,” where they made blankets and donated money to help Fitzgerald and those in the Southern Indiana community who had also fought the battle with cancer.

“He received additional strength and comfort from his friends,” Esber said. “The cool thing about Aidan is he actually helped to deliver blanket to other patients. Now, he is doing very well. He graduated from Notre Dame in 2010, and he is working abroad right now.”

When Esber saw his friend’s fight with cancer, Esber said it reminds him that anyone, even someone who is young and healthy, can be diagnosed with cancer.

“None of us are invincible for anything, let alone cancer,” Esber said. “More than making just a blanket, participants are raising self-awareness of general reality of cancer. That’s why I am bringing this project to Ohio State.”

Esber said he thinks the Buckeye Blanket Bash was great because medical students were directly supporting the patients at the James Cancer Hospital.

“Making blankets can really impact patients,” Esber said. “It encourages patients a lot and makes differences in the life of patients.”

Johnny and the Revelators, a cancer-support band, performed at the event.

“We do this in memory of my wife Michelle and support of others who were at the same battle she fought,” said John Clinton, a lead singer in Johnny and the Revelators. “We raise money for cancer causes to provide relief to people who struggled.”

Clinton said he is very pleased to be at the event to support people who are making blankets to comfort patients.

“The battle against cancer and treatment is all about the comfort, and it comes from a lot of ways,” Clinton said.

Jacqueline Yurkoski, a first-year in molecular genetics, made a blanket with her sister.

“My sister and I are doing something really nice for somebody who is being treated for cancer,” Yurkoski said. “Medical students who are in charge of this event provided all the materials for the blanket. I just donate my time and effort.”

Roger Addleman, a program manager of guest services at the James Cancer Hospital, helps students deliver blankets to the patients. He said the blankets not only help patients physically, but emotionally.

“When I walk in to the room and patients see students come in with me, their emotions are turning on and getting the positive energy from people outside of their staffs,” Addleman said. “They cherish the warmth the blanket gives them both from the standpoint of not only just temperature, but also the emotional and spiritual lift. They do not let go of that blanket the entire time when they’re in the hospital. When they come back, many of them bring their blankets back with them.”

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