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Students make fleece blankets for cancer patients

Tess Civantos | Monday, December 8, 2008

Notre Dame students made over 250 fleece blankets and cards for cancer patients at the third-annual Aidan Project Saturday.

The project began when then-sophomore Aidan Fitzgerald of Knott Hall was diagnosed with cancer three years ago.

“I had to take a year off my sophomore year for chemo,” Fitzgerald said. “And when my roommate, who was the Vice-President of Circle K, decided to start this, he asked ‘Would it be all right if we called it the Aidan Project?'”

His roommate, Chris Esber, and other friends started the project as a means of showing support and raising awareness. The blankets are distributed to various hospitals which treat children with cancer, including Riley Children’s Hospital, Memorial Hospital, and St. Joe’s Hospital, Fitzgerald said.

He receives some interesting responses from the children who receive the blankets.

“I got a huge packet of cards from kids last year, and the little kids are just hilarious,” he said.

Esber said the project continues to receive support from Circle K, Kiwanis, Knott Hall, the Class of 2009 and student government.

Meanwhile, the project has grown more popular with students every year.

“It blows our expectations every year,” Fitzgerald said. “We had to turn people away last year. This year we doubled the amount of fleece we used from last year, and look, it’s 1 p.m. and we already ran out.”

Esber said the project spent $4,000 on fleece.

Fitzgerald said the project had over 200 participants its first year, and over 500 students had come to this year’s project on Saturday as of 1 p.m.

“And that’s just the people who sign in,” Fitzgerald said.

Janeva Waked, vice president of the Class of 2009, added: “The project outgrew its old space in LaFun, it outgrew this space. We moved it to South Dining Hall and it’s still packed.”

Annette Esquibel, the Kiwanis Chair of Notre Dame’s Circle K, was pleased with this year’s event.

“We were really happy with the turnout,” she said.

In addition, the project emphasizes awareness in addition to just making blankets. They try to raise awareness for cancer in college-age people.

“The goal of the project is to raise cancer awareness – that it can happen in youth, it can happen to your friends,” Esquibel said.

Fitzgerald added: “We’re not just here to make blankets, we’re here to raise awareness.”

Students who participated appreciated the chance to take an active part in helping cancer patients.

“It’s a great cause,” sophomore Brittani Russell said. “It’s a wonderful way to reach out to kids who are obviously going through a rough time, and we should be doing all we can to help them.”

Monsy Corbera, one of the project’s coordinators, said she has a hard time describing her feelings toward the project.

“I can’t even describe this in words. It’s amazing,” she said.