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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

'Sisters for a cure'

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Barb Dean, owner of Medlar Studios on West Fourth Street, thought to create a cloth doll that would travel to raise money for cancer research. An online Oklahoma friend carved an additional doll, and the pair travel among the women in the online group, each hostess donating one gift for the doll and one gift to be auctioned for cancer research. To date, the group has raised $517.32, and will continue auctioning through January.
(Photo by Kate Padilla) [Order this photo]
Traveling dolls raise money for cancer research

From an article she wrote 10 years ago, Barb Dean, of Spencer, came across the book "Hitty: Her First Hundred Years" by Rachel Field. The book, written for children, follows a doll named Hitty, and is written as if the doll narrated the story.

Around the same time, Dean began discussing cancer research with her online group of friends, from the Handmade Dolls and Friends website.

"Nearly every one of us knew someone who was fighting, had survived or had died from cancer, if we weren't fighting or surviving it ourselves," Dean said. "We talked about making a traveling doll to raise money for cancer research."

Dean is one of the survivors. After battling five separate cancers simultaneously, she has been in remission for five years.

Dean made a cloth doll to resemble the character from the book. Wanda, a woman in Oklahoma, carved another out of wood.

"The Hitty doll always has black hair and blue eyes," Dean said. "The two that travel - we call them the 'sisters' - they have a traveling case and a diary."

The 'hostesses' of the dolls provide two gifts: one for the doll, usually a crocheted or sewed piece of clothing or accessory, and one to auction for the group. To date, the group has raised $517.32.

In addition, the hostesses bring the doll around, taking pictures and writing in the diary of the doll's adventures. One woman brought the sisters with her on a cruise.

"They started traveling in January, and they've been all around the country."

In February the women lost a friend of theirs, Constance, to cancer. In memorial, Dean sewed a miniature Hitty doll to travel with the sisters.

"We call them Hitty Susan, after Susan G. Komen, and Hitty Nancy, who was Susan's sister. The little one is Itty Bitty Hitty Constance."

The original idea was to have all of the dolls, accessories and gifts auctioned by the end of the year, but the group decided to wait at least another month after the onset of Superstorm Sandy. The dolls began their journey on the East Coast, and the hostesses wanted to continue their support after they recover from the storm.

By next year, however, everything associated with the Sisters for a Cure will be auctioned off, and 100 percent of the proceeds will go towards cancer research.

"It started on a whim," Dean said. "It's taken a lot of time, but we're very proud. It's been a success."

Though Sisters for a Cure will be complete, Dean said that the community will likely take on another project.

"There will be another project we need to do, for another cause," Dean said. "These dolls are doing some good."

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