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80-year-old cancer survivor crochets to help others

December 03, 2011|By KATE S. ALEXANDER | kate.alexander@herald-mail.com
  • Louise Dawson with her Steelers and Ravens afghans she crocheted.
By Yvette May/Staff Photographer

Twelve years ago, Louise Dawson of Hagerstown battled a rare form of cancer.

As she emerged a survivor, she made a promise: She would do something each day of her life for someone else, even if it was just crocheting.

At nearly 80 years old, Dawson crochets more than 20 afghans each year to give away.

Some go to family, some to friends.

Others go to organizations to be raffled or auctioned to raise money.

So when Hagerstown Citizens on Patrol learned that it did not receive much-needed funding for this year, Dawson said she told the group, of which she is a member, that she would donate a few afghans crocheted with the helmets of popular National Football League teams for it to raffle.

Her idea raised a few skeptical eyebrows, but now that more than 1,000 raffle tickets have been sold and another 500 have been printed, her idea just might prove more profitable than anyone thought.

"Louise is the 'get-it-doner,'" said Phil Nussear, vice president of Citizens on Patrol.

In the background, Dawson asked, "The what?"

"If you want something to get done, put a 'bug' in Louise's ear and it will get done," Nussear said.

Within two days of starting to sell tickets, Nussear said the first 500 he printed had been sold and Dawson said more were needed.  

"It's amazing," Nussear said.

Other afghans Dawson has created have raised as much as $1,400, she said.

"We hope to make $1,000 to $1,500 off the raffle," she said.

Between now and the Dec. 15 drawing, tickets will be on sale through members of Citizens on Patrol and at the Hagerstown Police Department on Burhans Boulevard, Nussear said.

Tickets cost $1 each or $5 for six, he said.

The money will go into the organization's general fund, which helps pay for its operations, equipment such as radios, and repairs to its fleet of patrol vehicles.

In the past year, one of the organization's patrol cars was vandalized, and eventually declared totaled, when someone dropped a television from the grandstand of Fairgrounds Park onto the vehicle's roof, Nussear said.

This fall, Hagerstown Ford donated a 1997 Plymouth to Citizens on Patrol, and another dealership has said it will donate a vehicle, he said.

Nussear said the donated car is in excellent condition.

"We're just so fortunate to have it donated," he said.

But to be ready for patrol, the car needed to be painted to match the fleet and a police radio needed to be installed.

Painting the vehicle cost the organization $660, Nussear said.

Proceeds from the raffle should go a long way toward bolstering the organization's general fund, which runs about $5,000 annually, and covering the costs of outfitting the new vehicle.

Dawson has handmade each of the afghans with the logo of one of four regional NFL teams — the Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens, Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins.

The winner will have their choice of team, Nussear said.

If the winner wants a different team than one of the four Dawson made, Nussear said Citizens on Patrol will buy the winner an official NFL woven afghan in the team of their choice.

It only takes a few weeks for Dawson to make one afghan, she said. Still, the organization is raffling only one of the NFL afghans she has made.

The rest will be available for members of Citizens on Patrol to purchase with a donation of $100 or more to the organization, Dawson said.

People often ask Dawson if she will sell them an afghan, she said. Her answer is always no.

"I don't do this for money," she said. "I don't sell them. I don't want to. I do it to help others."  

Whether Citizens on Patrol will have another afghan raffle next year depends on Dawson.

"If I'm still here," she said. "I'll soon be 80. I'm just glad I am doing this well."

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