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Aidan Project supports patients

Peter Durbin | Friday, November 30, 2012

This Saturday, students can help support pediatric cancer patients in the South Bend community with the Aiden Project.

Aidan Fitzgerald, a Notre Dame alumnus who contracted testicular cancer in 2006, started the Aidan Project to help pediatric cancer patients in need. He is now in remission, sophomore Circle K member Emmie Mediate said.

The event, which was started in 2006 and is hosted by Circle K and Knott Hall, began as a way to provide local cancer patients with blankets.  

“Aidan began the project after spending time struggling with cancer and feeling afflicted with cancer as a youth,” Mediate said.

Junior Mitchell Lopes, coordinator of the event for Knott Hall and participant for three years, said the idea was to create blankets from pieces of fabric. The blankets are sent to various local hospitals, he said.

“Aidan was looking for a way to give back that was logical, practical, and something that he felt he could undertake with his fellow students at Notre Dame,” Lopes said.

Each blanket is coupled with a “Get well” or “Merry Christmas” card, he said.

Since the event started in 2006, is has grown considerably. Lopes said at least half the residents in Knott Hall have participated in the event in the past.

“At first, the project was small, but it quickly grew,” Lopes said.

Nearly 2000 service hours are worked in preparation and during the event, with approximately 400 individuals participating in the event last year, Mediate said.  Members of Circle K, Knott Hall, the Kiwanis Club and the South Bend community have united to put on the event in the past.

“It’s our biggest event of the year, so it means a lot,” Mediate said.

Lopes said as the event has grown, a t-shirt sale has been added to provide additional fundraising.  Last year, the event raised $1500 from making 434 blankets and selling t-shirts.

“Our goal this year is to make 500 blankets and raise $1800,” Lopes said.

As a joint effort between Circle K and Knott Hall, the event resonates in different ways for participants.  

 “The event has a special significance for myself as I have lost a close family member to cancer,” Lopes said. “However, I believe the theme resonates with many guys in the dorm who simply feel the desire to pay forward the blessings they have been given”.

For Mediate, seeing the patients receive their blankets is the most meaningful part of the event.

“The best part of the project is being able to deliver the blankets to the hospitals, and see how much of an impact you are able to have on an individual’s well being, especially as they are in the hospital with cancer,” Mediate said.

The event takes place in South Dining Hall on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.  To support the cause, students can make blankets or “Get well” cards.  

T-shirts will be sold for $10 and can be purchased either at South Dining Hall or from the Facebook event ‘2012 Aidan Project.’  The shirts will also be sold in North Dining Hall on Friday.

Contact Peter Durbin at  [email protected]