Lions Club recognizes hero who provides blankets to sick children

Kerrie Strasser was showered with flowers by her friends and family Tuesday after she was named this year’s Hometown Hero by the Grand Junction Lions Club.

There was hardly a dry eye in the room today as the Grand Junction Lions Club gave a standing ovation to an unsung community hero who has sewn and distributed thousands of blankets to sick or injured children in the Grand Valley.

Kerrie Strasser, founder of the local Project Linus chapter, was presented with the 2010 Hometown Hero Award for her empathy and behind-the-scenes work helping comfort children during their stays at local hospitals.

“She has brought warmth and comfort to thousands, and we honor her for her compassion and caring of kids in the Grand Valley,” said Reford Theobold as he presented the award, followed by an enormous bouquet of yellow roses, and an oversized check of $1,000 headed to a charity of Strasser’s choice.

Standing in the back of the room, dabbing their eyes with their napkins, were Strasser’s parents, Doug and Jan Steiner. “This is absolutely wonderful,” Doug said. “The fact that they give this award and they give it with such finesse. We couldn’t be more proud,” he said.

“For years, she’s always working quietly in the background,” her father explained. “This is going to give her great satisfaction for her work.”

Strasser has delivered more than 5,000 blankets to area hospitals in the past five years. At times, her father said, an entire half of Strasser’s bedroom is filled with blankets.

Strasser became familiar with Project Linus in 2003 when her daughter, Sarah, was diagnosed with cancer. During her first chemotherapy session, Sarah received a blanket from the organization while receiving treatment in a Denver hospital.

The blanket provided such warmth and comfort for her child that Strasser returned to the Grand Valley and started a local chapter of Project Linus.

During a video testimonial at the luncheon, several of the pediatric nurses at St. Mary’s Hospital explained what the simple gift of a blanket can do to help a sick child. They said that the hospital is often a scary and uncomfortable place, but that giving a blanket —something that could be held tightly — could change the whole experience for an entire family.

“She has made a wonderful world of difference to those in Grand Junction,” said Connie Brownson, who has knitted more than 200 blankets for the organization.

Strasser chose not to address the club, calling the experience “overwhelming,” but she thanked them for their recognition.

Her name will be added to the permanent display of Hometown Hero recipients in the Two Rivers Convention Center lobby.


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