Custom blankets for kids with cancer come with special message

Bright Spot

BATESVILLE, Miss. — Through her own battle, one Batesville girl is helping adults and children dig deep to find their own strength.

For almost three months, 12-year-old Caitlyn Garner and her mother Shae have walked this walk into St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

“September the 13th we saw a specialist,” her mother said. “He said, ‘You need to go to Le Bonehur and get some scans. … By mid-afternoon we had gotten a diagnosis that she had a brain tumor.”

Before Caitlyn’s brain tumor diagnosis, her mother says she had good grades in school.

But one day when Caitlyn was in class, she noticed her vision wasn’t normal.

“The words just got smaller to me, and it got harder to read,” Caitlyn said. “I would fail every test because I couldn’t see.”

Caitlyn took the word “failing” and turned it into “fight,” bringing in friends to join “Team Caitlyn” to help in her battle against cancer.

Caitlyn has captured the attention of thousands on social media. One of her most recent posts was a celebration of her last chemo therapy treatment.

Sally Simmerman has been customizing blankets she calls “flubs” for 15 years, but just recently she’s wanted a better use for them — a use that could lighten the lives of children who are going through changes just like Caitlyn.

“Whenever somebody would have a traumatic experience, or cancer or death in the family, it just broke my heart,” Simmerman said.

Sally has found the perfect custom for her flubs: Caitlyn’s favorite Bible verse, Psalms 56-3, “When I’m afraid I put my trust in you.”

It goes on every blanket.

“It lets me know that God is with me and that if I ever do need his help and I’m afraid, I can just think of him and he’ll be with me,” Caitlyn said.

Caitlyn carries her flub with her everywhere, including her chemo treatments.

And because of her fight, and Sally’s work, other kids walking through these doors have them too.

“Even though they’re very sick, and you know that they are, they still have a smile on their face,” Simmerman said.

Simmerman’s goal is to gift every child in St.Jude with a flub, so in order to continue making them, she has to sell hair scrunchies to earn the money to make the blankets.


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