(Locator: Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio)
Jenny Bonsky: “When she got that cape, she thought it was the greatest thing in the world! She thought she was a superhero and she was running around with it!”
Three-year-old Elise Bonsky’s sweet spirit hides the difficulties she faces from Alexander’s Disease--a genetic condition that currently has no cure. Her mother Jenny says sick children crave something positive.
Jenny Bonsky, Recipient, Kids Capes of Courage: “They’re more than just fabric sewn together. It’s hope in a day or it’s a smile; it’s something that they’re able to have that isn’t a constant reminder of what they’re dealing with.”
Kids Capes of Courage, a ministry of Northampton United Methodist Church in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, sews special custom gifts for children facing tough times.
(Sounds of sewing)
The project’s founder, Debby Rowland, felt God encouraging her to comfort kids.
Debby Rowland, Founder, Kids Capes of Courage: “When you go down to Children’s Hospital and you see those kids that are so ill. They’ve lost all their hair and ….If I can give them a smile and just something fun to have, we’ve been successful.”
(Monica to class) “Does anyone know what courage means?”
Debby’s daughter Monica Moyer helps her distribute capes, like these to schoolchildren with challenges.
(Monica to little girl) “Oh my gosh, you look beautiful!”
Monica Moyer, Kids Capes of Courage: “People really like the fact that the kids get courage from it. I mean, every kid wants to be a superhero. My kids ran around with towels tied around their neck. So this just gives these kids something to feel good about.”
Fourteen-year-old Codey Montecalvo credits his cape with helping him recover from bone cancer.
Codey Montecalvo, Recipient, Kids Capes of Courage:
“My cape is wonderful! It is like purple and it has orange and it’s magical! And it has like the coolest looking patterns.”
(Pastor leading prayer) “…kids would have one more moment of laughter in their lives…”
Tish Rowland, Kids Capes of Courage: “We always say a prayer before we start a cutting session. And we have set up actual prayer times that we pray for those children.”
(Debby to volunteers) “Those will be cut out…”
The group has distributed over 1,000 capes to the local children’s hospital, an oncology unit, and to some kids in foster care. Jenny Bonsky so appreciated the capes for her and Elise that she now sews capes for other children.
Jenny Bonsky: “I cried and prayed for the little kid that would be receiving them because you know they’re going through so much.”
Dozens of her co-workers decided to join the effort.
Lindsey Wilkinson, Volunteer, Kids Capes of Courage: “It’s so powerful to see how it affected Jenny and Elise and how important it was to them. You just know you have to get involved.”
Volunteers like 12-year-old Emma McSparren saw the magic in the capes and offered to sew.
Emma McSparren, Volunteer, Kids Capes of Courage: “My brother got a cape because he was really nervous about going to therapy because he has OCD. And he picked a design with monsters on it because he felt like he was defeating his own monsters by doing this.”
Denise Duffy, Volunteer, Kids Capes of Courage: “Making the capes, it pretty much saved me. My husband passed away two years ago. Even though I am by myself, you don’t feel alone. You feel part of something.”
The Rev. Keith McLaughlin, Northampton United Methodist Church:
“The fact that we’re going out into the community and doing stuff for people who may never walk in the walls of this church, I think it speaks to our heritage and who we are as United Methodists in great measure.”
(Volunteer to child) “I think this will look so handsome on you!”
Tish Rowland: “It is The United Methodist Church wrapping themselves around these children and saying ‘We love you! And, we want you to get better and we’re going to be here for you and we’re going to pray for you and we’re going to love you through this process.’”
Kids Capes of Courage will create custom-made capes for anyone who asks for one through its website: www.kidscapesofcourage.org or Facebook page. You can also contact the group to volunteer or donate.
This story was produced by United Methodist Communications and published on April 24, 2015.
Media contact is Fran Walsh at 615-742-5458.