SYSK: ConKerr Cancer founder visits Iowa - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

SYSK: ConKerr Cancer founder visits Iowa


Cindy Kerr lives outside Philadelphia, but she was on a tour raising awareness about childhood cancer. One stop was at Valley Lutheran High School in Cedar Falls.

Cindy Kerr's son, Ryan, was diagnosed with bone cancer in 2002. When he re-lapsed, Cindy started making him a fun pillowcase for each hospital visit. She also made pillowcases for all the other children in the oncology department. Sadly, Ryan passed away, but Cindy officially started ConKerr Cancer -- A Case for Smiles in 2007.

It really took off in 2008 when her story was featured on the Martha Stewart Show.

"I know what it's like to see your child smile when going through an experience like this. So I knew it needed to continue. Ryan did not want it to be about him. He wore red high top sneakers, which is part of our logo, so that's how we remember him," said Cindy Kerr.

To date, more than 415,000 pillowcases have been handed out to children between the ages of two and 18. A child gets a pillowcase each time he or she visits the hospital.

"I never ever dreamed, thought this. It's become a full-time job. But it's a great job," said Kerr.

There are 125 chapters and partnerships with 250 hospitals. Brenda Cummer from Waverly is the Iowa Chapter Coordinator.

Brenda and Cindy helped students at Valley Lutheran sew some pillowcases. Cindy said making a pillowcase is easy and a little addicting.

"It's really simple. A lot of people talk about it like it's eating potato chips. You can't make just one," she said.

The pillowcases mean a lot to the volunteers and the children who receive them.

"Kids that have survived have made quilts out of their pillowcases, and then the sad stories where the siblings sleep with the pillowcase because they remind them of their lost brother or sister," said Cindy Kerr.

Cindy said ConKerr Cancer started as an act of love for her son, and she wants people to know we all have something to give.

"I was nobody famous, and I just did something for my son. So, if you have talents, utilize those talents and try to give back to the community," she said.

For more information on making pillowcases or donating fabric or money, click here.

Reporter: Danielle Wagner

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