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Spider Man was once told: "With great power, comes great responsibility," and for a group of Akronites, that responsibility includes making capes for little heroes fighting a different kind of battle.
Many children dream of becoming a superhero. Whether it’s Batman or Superman saving the day, there’s one character trait they share: courage. That’s exactly what the nonprofit group Capes of Courage is seeking to do: give children an extra boost of bravery when going through tough battles with cancer and other health issues.
Although this group has only been around for a couple months, its presence has been nothing short of extraordinary. The concept was born when Debby Rowland, the group’s founder, was watching NBC’s “Today” show and saw a woman working on a similar project.
“I thought, ‘I would love to do that for children around here,’” Rowland says. “I felt that it was God speaking to me, telling me, ‘This is what you need to do.’”
It was her fondness for volunteer work and serving others that prompted Rowland and her daughter, Monica Rowland Moyer, to create Capes of Courage with the helping hands of their friends.
No details are overlooked in making these stylish and meaningful treasures, from the type of Velcro used to fasten the cape to the fabrics that are stitched with happy monsters and smiley designs.
The first cape that Rowland and Moyer made was red with a lightning bolt for a boy at their church who was struggling with cancer. Another, a tiny pink cape, was made for a premature baby, who is now a healthy 8-month-old.
The dynamic duo says Capes of Courage really took off when they dropped off the first load of 20 capes at Akron Children’s Hospital. Organizers of the hospital’s fundraiser asked the ladies to donate some capes for a silent auction.
Since it began, volunteers with Capes of Courage have created about 100 capes in a variety of colors, designs and sizes. Now a part of the Northampton United Methodist Church’s ministry, many people help to sew the capes, which take about 45 minutes to make.
“It’s interesting to see the fabric people pick out,” Moyer says, adding that the creativity her volunteers use to make the capes is a beautiful process to watch.
Rowland says the group recently donated Capes of Courage to an equestrian therapy camp where children with developmental disabilities can ride horses. Other capes were delivered to the special education department of a local elementary school. The students were thrilled with their gifts.
“When I walk through the halls now, they say, ‘There’s the Cape Lady!” she adds.
Her church also hosts a summer retreat for local foster children, and church members — young and old — created 60 capes for the attendees, who will be wearing them during the retreat.
Rowland and Moyer recall the day they went to a craft store at Christmas time to purchase more fabric for capes and learned of a little girl who was suffering from an illness. “We took her address, went home, made a cape and sent it off,” Moyer says.
The capes are free for children fighting health issues, but for children who just want fun superhero gear, the organization has a “give-what-you-can” philosophy. All monetary donations help the group purchase more cape-making materials, and contributions of fabric and volunteer time are always welcome.
Although Capes of Courage is growing, Rowland and Moyer will never forget their group’s mission.
“It’s so heartbreaking to know of a child who’s going through something a child shouldn’t have to endure,” Moyer says. “Anything you can do to make a kid and the kid’s parent feel better, to put a smile on their face, is indescribable.”
To contact Capes of Courage, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 330-730-1883.
/ Writer Hannah Yang is a senior at Ohio University working on her bachelor’s in journalism.