Edie Brannon and her club are being honored for their Wonderful Onesies Project by the Lions Club International Foundation
It will be a wonderful weekend for the makers of Wonderful Onesies.
The La Center Lions Club will be presented with an international award Saturday, courtesy of an idea from its vice president and the help from countless individuals who believed they could make a difference.
Edie Brannon, the vice president of the La Center club, made a few modifications to onesies, using her own funds and design, and provided them to a mother who had a daughter going through chemotherapy. Wonderful Onesies, as they came to be known, have plackets, a flap, or a pocket flap, sewn into them to allow access for medical professionals to place chemotherapy into the ports. The babies can stay warm during the procedure, wearing these onesies.
The feedback from that family was so positive, Brannon wondered if she could make more, if hospitals would accept the modified onesies.
Today, she has delivered more than 300 Wonderful Onesies to OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital and Randall Children’s Hospital at Legacy Emanuel in Portland.
Brannon’s idea and design was just the start of things. She received immediate support from her own club, then presented her idea to nearby Lions Clubs. From everywhere, Brannon started receiving donations of onesies, or money to pay for more onesies and pockets, and several more volunteered their time to sew the Wonderful Onesies.
On Saturday, at the Spring Conference for Lions Clubs in Southwest Washington, Brannon and the La Center Lions Club will be recognized as recipients of the Lions International Kindness Matters Service Award.
There are 30 Kindness Matters awards worldwide this year, and just six in the United States. The award is presented to clubs that create high-impact service projects within one of the Lions International and Lions Club International Foundation cause areas, including diabetes, childhood cancer, environment, hunger, vision, disaster relief, youth, or humanitarian.
“To get an international award, it didn’t sink in for a while,” Brannon said. “Lions aren’t really big on boasting. It’s an honor. It’s a big honor.”
She insists, too, that it was just her idea. The award goes to the La Center club, with a salute to the neighboring clubs who all contributed to the success of Wonderful Onesies.
“I’m a really good thinker-upper, but if I don’t have a lot of support from my club, the idea isn’t going to go anywhere,” Brannon said.
A few years back, Brannon, who was taught to sew when she was 8 years old and has decades of experience, answered a help ad on Facebook. A woman was asking for sewing help.
When Brannon asked what was needed, the woman told her she had a friend in Tennessee who had a 7-month old daughter battling cancer. The mother wanted her baby to be able to keep her onesie on during treatment but the onesies would deteriorate once it was cut to access the port.
At first, Brannon said she figured she could find an item like that somewhere. She searched Google, went to Amazon, Etsy, and other shopping sites. She couldn’t find anything for babies.
That’s when she remembered she made a pocket on an adult sweatshirt for her husband who was going through dialysis at the time. Why not try doing that for a baby’s onesie?
She sent her creation to Tennessee, and the mom was overwhelmed. It worked great.
From there, Brannon decided to keep making them, and improving them. She made a few prototypes and gave them to her doctor to share with colleagues. Brannon got more feedback. She kept improving.
She also started sharing her idea with other Lions Clubs. From there, a member asked the North Star Quilters Guild to get involved. They got together and had a “sew-off,” Brannon said, making more and more products.
“They go after it like bees, an assembly line of bees,” Brannon said.
Brannon had enough to present the onesies to a hospital. She took them to Doernbecher. She acknowledged she was a bit apprehensive. A patient coordinator — they are angels without wings, Brannon added — seemed to have a we’ll-see attitude about the product. Then that woman put the onesies to a test. She pulled. Tugged. Tried to find a weakness. Then it hit her.
“This is genius,” the woman told Brannon.
“I wouldn’t go that far, but I wasn’t going to stop her from going that far,” Brannon said with a laugh.
Since then, Wonderful Onesies has grown. More money through grants and donations, and one woman now has 1,000 onesies ready to be turned into Wonderful Onesies.
During the interview, Brannon held up a Wonderful Onesie designed for a 3-month old baby.
“The person who is getting chemo fits in this,” she said, holding up the tiny item. “Those little ones are going through it, but they don’t have to go through it cold.”
Note: For more information on Wonderful Onesies, visit its Facebook page or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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