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Volunteer Spotlight

Volunteer Spotlight on Leslie Edmond

If you attend CURE events, chances are you’ve seen Leslie Edmond. Although you might have to look hard to catch a glimpse because you typically won’t find her on stage or in the spotlight. No, she’ll be the one with her sleeves rolled up behind the scenes doing whatever it takes to ensure success. And there’s nowhere else she’d rather be.

Leslie found CURE during her family’s fight against childhood cancer. Her very active eight-year-old son, Matthew, ran a low-grade fever for two weeks and was noticeably slower at an end-of-season swim meet. When he complained of neck pain and she found a lump, her concern escalated. Fortunately, he had a routine check-up scheduled for the following day. But his pediatrician found more lumps on his chest and sent him to a specialist.

After a long process that included bloodwork, biopsy, and many more tests, Matthew was diagnosed with anaplastic large-cell lymphoma. His treatment consisted of chemotherapy that lasted a full year.

“I would describe him as a healthy cancer patient,” Leslie said. “He handled chemo well and we only had to make one emergency trip to the hospital.”

As a cancer mom, Leslie was invited to one of the first A Tribute to Our Quiet Heroes luncheons and it made quite an impression.

“Most Saturdays I was doing laundry or driving the mom shuttle somewhere,” she recalled. “But there I was dressed up and sitting at a table with these women I didn’t know. But really, I knew every one of them because we shared such a deep common experience. It was beautiful.”

That Saturday set something in motion for her – a desire to pay it forward. Leslie wanted other moms fighting for their children’s lives to be made to feel as special as she did that day. So she contacted CURE and offered to help. She didn’t limit her involvement to Quiet Heroes, though. Since then, she has served in many other capacities. Leslie delivers meals to the clinic on Tuesdays, she has tied up Christmas bows and pound cakes, stuffed invitations, and served on auction committees.

Leslie at Quiet Heroes with fellow volunteers: Leigh Ann Herrin, Eileen and Maggie Villoutreix

“I like to be a part of several things because I get to see the extent of CURE’s care and relationship with the families,” Leslie explained. “One of the most rewarding and challenging things I’ve done is volunteer at the bereavement weekends. Seeing the parents working through their grief and thinking maybe I had a small part in helping just one of them makes it all worthwhile.”

Leslie is constantly encouraging others to volunteer. For those interested, she has three pieces of advice:

  • Be flexible and fill whatever gaps are needed.
  • No job is insignificant. Every small thing is important to the whole effort.
  • Not everyone can write a big check, but everyone can do something to help.

Matthew is twenty-eight years old now and lives in Chattanooga where he can enjoy climbing, camping, and all of the outdoor activities he loves. He is very fortunate to have no obvious side effects from the treatment.

And Leslie, she is still serving at every opportunity. In fact, recently, as Leslie was working the registration desk at CURE’s Weekend of Hope and Healing, a mother noticed her name tag and said, “You’re a CURE Volunteer? I want to be a volunteer.”

Leslie just smiled and replied confidently, “When you’re ready, there is a place for you.”

Bringing Comfort

Sitting with her husband in their Charlotte home, Kim Griggs appreciated the comfort and warmth she felt underneath the soft afghan that covered her. Diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer, Kim was struggling mightily with debilitating mouth sores brought on by her treatment. As she rested, her mind began to wonder how hard it must be for a child to endure chemo and have such painful mouth sores. Her heart sank as she considered a child going through this same pain.

“I was under that comfortable blanket and it just came to me,” she said. “I’m going to make a quilt for a child.”

The idea brought her excitement, but was fraught with problems – chief of which was that even though her grandmother had been an avid quilter, Kim had never made a quilt before! But she quickly determined that fact wasn’t going to stop her. When she felt better, she went to a quilt store for advice. Soon after, she was taking pants to a neighbor to be hemmed and discovered that this friend had a quilting machine and taught classes. So she enrolled and her journey began.

Quilting became a focus for her and a distraction from her own treatment. The activity kept her moving. As she worked, she prayed over each one, praying that they would bring comfort and healing to the child who soon lay underneath. She named her mission, Quilts of Virtue.

Before she finished her own treatment for her own cancer, she had made thirteen quilts to give away. That last one was sent to a little girl in Maryland who would soon pass away. The girl’s mother sent Kim a letter thanking her for the quilt and told her that her daughter had been under it when she passed. She now sleeps under it every night.

“After I finished weeping for that little girl’s family,” Kim said. “I was glad I had sent it and now it meant something special to her mother.”

Kim would move back home to Atlanta soon after her treatment concluded. In all, she had four rounds of chemo and thirty-six rounds of radiation and now she is a six-year survivor.

“My health is really good! I am blessed!”

Of course, she has continued to make quilts for children fighting cancer. In Atlanta, she linked up with CURE and asked for the names of three children who wanted a quilt. CURE also discovered things the children liked so that Kim could make each quilt special and unique. When she finished those three, she asked for three more names. That cycle continues today.

And she still prays comfort and healing over each one. In fact, she began mentoring young ladies at her church where she started a ministry called Kingdom International Missions. She hopes to pass on more than just the art of quilting. She wants to instill moral truths and teach the girls to be considerate of others.

All in all, Kim estimates she has made nearly one hundred quilts for childhood cancer patients; each one as unique and special as the child it comforts. She doesn’t have plans to stop making them any time soon.

“I don’t believe in retirement,” she laughed. “I’ll keep making them until the end.”

Kim’s goal of bringing comfort to children fighting cancer aligns with CURE’s mission to walk with patients and their families as a resource and friend from diagnosis, through treatment, and beyond. We are grateful every time we can spread one of Kim’s quilts over a patient, knowing the comfort and hope it will bring.