There was a moment yesterday when I realized my healthy heart was full. Despite the front page news about Chicago’s mayoral election, a story ran on page 9 of the Chicago Tribune featuring something I’m quite passionate about. Something I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to talk about in public, let alone on this blog in August and again in January. For those of you who remember those posts, you’ll remember it was about the sudden death of my cousin nearly 9 years ago.
Those posts were also about something called Little Hats, Big Hearts™, a campaign to get handmade little red hats onto the heads of newborns born in the month of February, a.k.a. National Heart Month. The little hats are given to new parents along with an info packet to help them learn more about congenital heart defects and the serious risks they pose.
I’m not one to share my cousin’s story lightly, but I decided to take the plunge because it was time I did what I could through this small corner of the internet to raise awareness about this issue. I came across the knitting and crochet-focused campaign in the month that marked 8 years since my cousin’s passing. It seemed almost like a sign that I was in a position to help do something good despite the tragedy that had happened. I wrote blog posts explaining the campaign that featured free patterns for Red Hearts Hats for newborns and for preemies. Yesterday, the Chicago Tribune published an article about the campaign and I was asked to share a little bit of why I volunteer with it myself.
You can read the full article here, and the excerpt with my quotes is below.
… Heidi Gustad, 27, knit a half-dozen miniature hats for the campaign. She’s been knitting since her grandma taught her when she was just 8 years old, she said.
Nine years ago, her 18-year-old cousin Courtney — no relation to Schullo’s friend — died unexpectedly. The autopsy revealed an undiagnosed heart defect as the cause.
“The way she died was so out of the blue,” Gustad said. “No one had any idea that she had this condition. Had our family known, she might still be alive. She’s the reason I knew, right away, that I wanted to get involved.”
Gustad designed patterns for the hats and knitted them while watching movies.
Months later, on a clear day in February, one of her hats was delivered to 3-month-old Lincoln Baisch. …
A big high five to the Tribune for highlighting the campaign. To find out if there’s a place to donate hats in your area, visit heart.org/littlehatsbighearts for a list of donation cities as well as info on how to get a drive going near you!