KLEW Community Heroes: Joey’s Blankets of Courage, Strength, and Hope
In our latest installment of KLEW Community Heroes, we turn to the story of a Lewiston boy, who through his own struggles as learned that a few simple pieces of fabric can warm more than just a body.
A blanket provides warmth when it's cold out. But what does a blanket of courage, strength, and hope provide? Lewiston teenager Joey Thomasson knows it's so much more than any typical piece of fabric.
Joey Thomasson is just like any other 16 year-old at first glance. He goes to school, hangs out with friends, and even suffers a broken arm by just doing every day adolescent activities. But there's something that sets him apart.
“I also have my own non-profit where I make blankets for cancer patients,” he says.
It's called Joey's Blankets of Courage, Strength, and Hope.
Joey's been leading the non-profit since he was 13, for the past three years.
"Well I've watched tons of families going through chemotherapy and I just always wanted to do something to give back to the people, because I know it's rough to go through treatment."
Why blankets? Well Joey says a blanket is sometimes the most necessary thing for someone battling cancer.
“I know some treatments can make you cold, or even just the blankets bring comfort top people, and that was just my goal, to bring comfort to patients,” he says.
Joey started making blankets after his brother received one after he had back surgery in Seattle. To this day, he's made blankets for well over 300 different people, sending them across the country, and as far away as England. Each one, hand cut, handmade, and with no profit in return for his good deed.
“They are sick, and they could die, or be really terminally ill, so I just feel like they should get more attention."
But Joey also has his own blanket his mom made for him. That's because Joey is a patient too.
“I have tumors on my optic nerves. My chemo, I'd like to say it wasn't bad. I guess all cancer's bad."
Soon after Joey's Blankets of Courage, Strength, and Hope started, Joey was diagnosed with cancer.
“So it starts usually from your peripheral vision and just works its way in. So I lost a little bit of my peripheral vision we're pretty sure. But for the most part it's come back and hasn't really affected me at all."
Joey went through hours of chemo treatments, with his own personalized Seahawks blanket with him the whole time. He knows the cancer might return, but his fight won't ever stop.
“Well the worst thing that could happen I guess is that I could go blind. But my brother is blind, and it doesn't stop him from doing anything, so why should it stop me."
That attitude isn't only with cancer. It's also in the way Joey thinks about what comes next for his non-profit. He was recognized by the White House last May, winning the Prudential Spirit of Community Award. His journey to Washington D.C. wasn't just for an award.
"I just did it to hopefully meet and get other ideas to see what could I do more in the community."
Joey's blankets are more than just two fleece fabrics tied together. For one of Joey's mom's friends, the blankets mean everything when a loved one's battle with cancer tragically ends.
“She's lost both of her parents. And they keep the blankets after their family members have passed away," says Reca Thomasson.
Joey has message of courage, strength, and hope with every blanket he makes.
"Just to keep fighting. Always try, and you have strength."
Joey expects to keep making blankets for cancer patients until cancer is eliminated. He says even though each blanket costs $25, he expects to make an unlimited number of blankets going forward.