Group raises cancer awareness via quiltingWritten by Mark Hensch | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Mary Greeno experienced the ravages of breast cancer following her diagnosis in 1995.
After two years of intense treatment, Greeno swore she would create one quilt every year her breast cancer remained uncured. Twelve years later, her group of “Promise Quilters” continues its mission, having raised $200,000 in breast cancer awareness funds.
“When you have a disease like cancer, the days are filled with doctors and appointments,” Greeno said. “Quilting gave me a focus. It is something I find relaxing and enjoyable.”
Intrigued by Greeno’s unique therapy, WTOL news co-anchor Chrys Peterson interviewed her in 1997. Peterson — also the honorary chairwoman of the Susan G. Komen Northwest Ohio Race for the Cure — asked if Greeno would donate her finished quilt toward the group’s efforts. The rest, Peterson said, is history.
“Promise Quilters is the second largest Komen fundraiser after The Race for the Cure,” Peterson said. “They took a tiny idea from me and ballooned it into this huge effort for the Susan G. Komen Foundation.”
Greeno said the original quilt, titled “Pink Promise,” raised $2,200 in raffle tickets. Since then, she said, her group has traveled 23 Ohio counties, selling as many tickets as possible between May and September. The group has even made inroads into Michigan, she said, hosting raffles in Monroe County each year.
“People support it, knowing the money will be staying locally,” she said. “Every penny goes to Komen.”
Promise quilter Sharon Mareska said she has sewn alongside Greeno since the group’s inception. Its annual project, she said, usually lasts a time-consuming 12 months. Despite this, the work is worth the effort, she said.
“Promise Quilters has wildly exceeded any goal it has set for itself,” Mareska said. “I always remember Mary with her eyes wide, saying, ‘They want us to make a quilt.’ It has grown exponentially since then.”
The quilt won by Diana Osterman of Ottawa Lake raised $28,650 in a heated raffle battle.
“Since I was a new survivor, it was exciting to win at the time,” Osterman said. “Now, it reminds me of the other people who have gone through this. It makes me thankful there are people like Mary.”
Greeno said she hopes this year’s “Summertime Promise” quilt proves to be equally popular. The finished product required extensive labor from 51 quilters for one year.
“There is an investment of time we put into this quilt,” she said. “There is great satisfaction in sewing and creating something lasting. Because we have worked on it, it is a part of us.”