WINCHESTER — A dozen cancer survivors, hospital administrators, a nonprofit worker and car salesmen gathered outside the office of Shenandoah Oncology at Winchester Medical Center during Wednesday’s blanket drive.
Despite the hot weather outside, they prepared to distribute 80 blankets embroidered with messages of support from Subaru of Winchester customers.
As a part of Subaru Loves to Care month, the blanket drive is the third annual partnership between Subaru of Winchester, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) and Winchester Medical Center to give cancer survivors and patients hope for a cure.
“I’m always looking for something to cover myself up with,” Doug Kruhm of Clarke County said. “It allows me to think about the people who are supporting me.”
Kruhm was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer last fall. His diagnosis and immediate preparation for treatment came in the whirlwind of a week.
While his tumor count has decreased since his diagnosis, he is still undergoing chemotherapy treatments at Winchester Medical Center. He heard about the blanket drive while receiving bloodwork at the hospital. He joked with WMC staff members, asking if he would get new Subaru if he attended the blanket drive.
“There’s a need for humor in this process, at least for me,” Kruhm said.
Khiem Tran, campaign manager for the LLS, organized the blanket drive in conjunction with the local Subaru dealership.
Tran works with 16 different Subaru dealerships across Virginia during Subaru’s Care month, donating cards and blankets to cancer patients and survivors in local medical centers.
Tran has worked with the LLS for two years. He builds partnerships with local businesses to provide support for cancer patients and survivors and to provide funding for blood cancer research.
He joined the LLS after doing philanthropy with his college fraternity and supporting his mother through her breast cancer diagnosis.
To spread awareness, Subaru of Winchester set up a box in their dealership to encourage customers to write messages of hope and support. Then, Subaru purchased 80 blankets to donate to Winchester Medical Center. All of the patients and survivors at the blanket drive received a blanket.
Duncan Carlson, Internet Manager at Subaru, helped organize the transportation of the notes and blankets to Winchester Medical Center.
Carlson hopes to encourage greater participation during next year’s blanket drive during Subaru Care’s month.
“We wish we could be more effective, but it’s a start,” Carlson said.