It wasn't supposed to be a charitable event, it just sort of worked out that way.
I am a Paramedic in a rural 911 service. I learned to crochet from my grandmother and great-grandmother when I was a child. When I started working in EMS, I had a partner who I enjoyed working with, but who loved to watch professional wrestling. Now, in EMS, we work 24 hour shifts. Twenty-four hours of pro wrestling. I figured if I didn't find something to keep my brain busy, we'd have trauma in the quarters, so I started taking my crocheting to work to do between calls.
I eventually moved to the job I have now and took my habit with me. The guys teased me a bit, but it didn't matter to me. I keep busy, and I have something to show for it when I'm done. I get between 10 and 14 blankets a year done, most all of which I give away.
I started entering my blankets in the local county fair about 4 years ago, just to see how they'd rank against the others in the county. In 2002 I had entered two of them and it was one day about two weeks before the fair when my partner and I got a call for a farm accident.
It was a horrible, horrible scene. A local 14 year old boy was killed in a piece of farm machinery. Recovery took nearly all day and was difficult. It's a small area, and the fire crew who responded to the scene all knew this boy, some were his 4-H advisors and neighbors, and it affected everyone profoundly.
This boy had been very active in 4-H and the members of his group decided to build a barn in his memory at the fairgrounds. These kids auctioned their 4-H projects, solicited donations, and passed the hat to raise the money themselves in this effort.
My partner and I carried this run with us. Who rescues the rescuers? We tried to keep our heads down and not be noticed but medics are supposed to save people, to help, and this boy was beyond our help.
So, the fair rolled around and the 4-H kids were busting their butts, collecting change to build a barn. And I went to check how my blankets had done. Best of show for one of them. Ribbon and trophy both! I was so proud I could have burst.
But then I thought -- it was just yarn and time killed between runs. I could make another just like it if I wanted. But to a group of kids remembering their friend, it could be worth something. I had it taken down, my name removed (and that's why my name isn't here either!) and sent it down to the 4-H kids to auction. They sold it and my trophy to the highest bidder. And it felt like I had finally helped.
Well, they raised enough money. The barn got built and it's named for this boy, but it's dedicated to 4-H kids who have been killed in different accidents. I couldn't go to the barn dedication, but I took my kids to see it the next day. I didn't know they were mounting signs inside, thanking everyone who had donated, by name. And at the top of one of them is says "Anonymous Afghan." I was stunned, but my kids knew what it meant.
I won Best of Show again last year. And I sent it to another charitable cause. I may not win every year, but when I do, there's someone who can use it to help someone else.
And that's how a Paramedic saved herself.