Nadine and Josh McCrow give to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital every December
Nadine and Josh McCrow knew some donations were coming their way Sunday afternoon. Just a couple people, they were told.
It turned into hundreds of people.
Led by law enforcement vehicles, with their lights flashing and sirens blasting to signal the start of a blanket parade.
The McCrows donate blankets every December to OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland, honoring their daughter Hailey, who died in 2009 from a heart defect.
This year, that donation will be more than 1,000 blankets, thanks to the generosity of so many.
“We were definitely surprised,” Nadine McCrow said. “It just blew us away, the amount of people who came together to do this. It’s very surprising, and we’re very, very thankful for all the support and the blankets we got today.”
Heidi LaRue of Vancouver donated some blankets to the McCrow family last year after seeing a post on Facebook. They did not know each other. LaRue just thought it was a grand gesture from the McCrows, and she wanted to help.
After last year’s delivery, LaRue promised Nadine that she would donate 100 blankets in 2020.
“They didn’t believe me,” LaRue said. “We started making blankets, we started reaching out.”
By the end of October, LaRue and friends had made or gathered more than 150 blankets.
She then wanted to make a special delivery. During the pandemic, LaRue had participated in a couple of birthday parades, driving past someone’s home to honk and celebrate a birthday.
What about a blanket parade?
“I posted it on Facebook to a couple of groups, and it went crazy,” LaRue said.
Eventually, the folks who run Kindness 911 found out and asked about sponsoring the parade.
“Heck yeah,” LaRue said. “The bigger the better. It kind of went from there.”
Kindness 911 is a non-profit that connects law enforcement agencies with the people they serve, to recognize everyday heroes in the community. Kindness 911 set up locations for donations.
When it came time for the parade, organizers set up at a nearby parking lot, and off they went to the McCrow home.
LaRue went ahead of the parade, bringing her blankets, then initiated some small talk with the McCrows, ensuring they would be outside when the parade started.
“We heard the sirens,” LaRue said. “She looked up.”
LaRue feigned ignorance.
“What the heck is going on?” she asked Nadine.
“They came around the corner. It was awesome. Truly blessed. I said, ‘Don’t cry. You’re going to make me cry.’”
Jason Hattrick of Kindness 911 made a brief announcement, donating more than 400 blankets.
The surprise was not over, though.
After Hattrick left, the rest of the parade started. There were 75 to 80 more cars, most cars bringing multiple blankets.
LaRue and her friends ended up giving more than 270 blankets. Then the 420 from Kindness 911, and then anywhere from 200 to 400 more from the parade.
That’s a lot of blankets, in memory of Hailey.
Hailey was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome and spent her four months of her life at Doernbecher. She died on Dec. 2, 2009.
“We still have her blankets,” Nadine said. “We hold those and remember her by those. We wanted to return the favor.”
In lieu of flowers, the family asked for blankets at Hailey’s funeral.
And on Dec. 2 of every year, the family brings Doernbecher more blankets.
“It’s an amazing hospital. The doctors and nurses there were amazing,” Nadine said. “It’s been 11 years, and we still talk to some of them. We’re grateful for everything they have done.”
The first year, the McCrow family donated 30 blankets. A few years later, they hit the 100 milestone. The most they have donated is just a little more than 400.
This year, they will crush that record, thanks to LaRue, Kindness 911, and the generosity of so many more.
“It just means a lot. It keeps our daughter’s memory alive. We can still talk about her,” Nadine said. “That way, she’ll never be forgotten.”