While most students spent their summer working, lounging around the pool or sleeping, freshman Alex Wright spent her summer quilting for a cause.
Wright won judges’ choice in the under 18 category of the national Quilt of Dreams contest earlier this year.
For those students who know Wright, it may be a bit of a surprise to hear that she quilts. It was a definite shock to freshman Ashley Beadell, Wright’s roommate.
“I had no idea that she could do that,” Beadell said. “I guess we’ve just never talked about it, but that’s a really cool thing she’s doing,”
Wright was introduced to quilting by her grandma at a young age.
“I’m a nerd and I thought it was cool,” Wright said. “It takes a lot of math and measurement, and I really like math, so I thought, ‘why not try it?'”
As of this year, Wright has made a total of five quilts.
“I kept one, I made one for my dad and I’ve donated the other three to St. Jude’s for the Quilt of Dreams contest,” she said.
The Quilt of Dreams contest is put on by Hancock Fabrics every year to raise money for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.
The quilts that are donated are either given to the children in need of a little piece of comfort, or they’re auctioned off to raise more money for the hospital. To date, there have been over 15,000 total quilts donated and over $5 million raised to go to St. Jude’s.
The quilts are inspired by the children living at St. Jude’s. In the registration packet given to all participants, a page is dedicated to the patients that lists what their dreams are for the future. These dreams range from being police officers, to traveling the world, to simply being healthy and cancer-free.
Rules for the Quilt of Dreams contest are very strict, and the quilts themselves undergo extreme scrutiny. All of the quilts must be made solely with new products and cotton and must be delivered in clean, plastic bag to be judged.
Wright donated three quilts through the contest, but was surprised to hear that she had won.
“I really didn’t think I’d win anything,” Wright said. “I chose to participate because it’s a really amazing cause. These kids are so sick and they can’t have a normal life because of that. I wanted to make a quilt that shows them how special and important they really are.”
Currently, Wright is working toward a major in athletic training.
“I worked as a student athletic trainer in high school, so I could spend about 13 hours at school a day,” Wright said. “It really opened my eyes to how much work it is, but it’s something I really want to pursue.”
Bobby Nalean, leadership and service coordinator at the center for vocation and integrative learning, said that Wright exhibits the qualities that Simpson is working to instill.
“This is a prime example of how doing a small thing can have a big impact,” he said. “Alex used her quilt-making talent to benefit the larger community, specifically the children at St. Jude’s.”
As for what the future holds for Wright, she’s still planning on quilting, but not until summer.
“It’s a really big activity,” Wright said. “It takes a lot of space and there’s absolutely no way I could get it to fit in my dorm room. I’ll definitely keep quilting over the summer though. I’m just the type of person that will donate to any charity, but knowing that it benefits the kids so much, that just makes it so much more important to me.”
Nalean says that Wright’s passion should serve as an example that service can be found in any avenue, regardless of how unconventional.
“There are many ways to serve our communities, and I challenge everyone to think about how they can use their talents, gifts or hobbies to serve others. Positive change happens when leaders like Alex dedicate time and energy to noble causes like this.”