Locals raise money, awareness about MS through quilting

April 21, 2021 | Sarah Heinonen

Sharlene Devereux, Valerie Morton, Debbi Dakers and Sandi Mahoney hold a basket containing fat quarters for their MS quilt fundraiser and awareness campaign.
Reminder Publishing photo by Sarah Heinonen

EAST LONGMEADOW – Four  women have banded together with a small business in East Longmeadow to help raise awareness about multiple sclerosis, one stitch at a time.

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS) states that nearly 1 million people in the United States have multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease in which myelin – the protective sheathing around nerves – becomes damaged, making it difficult for the exposed nerves to send and receive messages from the brain. The disease causes muscle spasms, difficulty walking, fatigue, weakness, vision problems, emotional changes and more.

“Every year, we all participate in the MS walk,” Debbi Dakers said of her friends and Walk MS, a fundraiser for NMSS. “Well, we couldn’t do that this year, so we started brainstorming.”

Dakers, an avid quilter, and Sandi Mahoney, who has been a Walk MS team captain in the past, came up with the idea of making quilts to raise awareness and money for NMSS. When they approached Quilts & Treasures owner Valerie Morton, she was on board.

“I feel very strongly that quilting should be supportive and when I hear about a project for a good cause, I want to help,” said Morton.

Now, Dakers and friends Sharlene Devereux, Courtney Rotzlier and Eileen Oechsli-Bohigian, all of whom have been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, will each make one “lap-sized” quilt with “fat quarters” that are sold at Quilts & Treasures.

Morton explained for those not familiar with quilting that fat quarters are a half yard of fabric that is then cut in half widthwise, creating a square. The squares are sewn together to make a quilt.

Morton is selling the MS quilt fat quarters for the quilts at $3, roughly a 20 percent discount. When purchased, the customer receives a coupon for 10 percent off of their next purchase. After the sale of the MS quilt fat quarters ends at the end of April, Morton will match the 10 percent savings and use that money to buy the batting and backing material and other expenses for the quilts.

On the first day, Morton said, 31 fat squares had already been purchased and donated to the cause. “The quilting community is very generous,” commented Mahoney.

After completion, the quilts will be on display this summer. Proposed locations for the quilts to hang include the Mandell MS Center in Springfield, Springfield Neurology, It Makes Scents & Outside The Box Gift Shop in Ludlow and at Quilts & Treasures. They will be raffled off around the end of November. Tickets are $5 each or five tickets for $20.

To purchase a fat quarter or inquire about the raffle, call 525-4789 or email BeCreative@quiltsandtreasuresinc.com. To learn more about MS, visit https://www.nationalmssociety.org.

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