Stitch by Stitch

A Florida fourth-grader turns a family tradition into a cause for a cure

Fourth-grader inspired to sew scarves to raise money for Relay for Life.

While many families participate in traditions, the Perrone-Casale annual family tradition involves grabbing a pair of sneakers and walking a track. Each year, Alex, a fourth-generation Thrivent member, her mom, Kathlyn, and Alex's grandmother, Merideth, take part in a local Relay for Life fundraiser event in Englewood, Florida. Relay for Life team members raise funds by taking turns walking around a track or designated path to symbolize the ongoing fight against cancer.

Alex, Kathlyn and Merideth walk in honor of family members who are cancer survivors, as well as to remember loved ones who have passed away. "We've watched quite a few family members battle cancer," says Kathlyn. "It can be hard for Alex to talk about." Alex's grandpa was diagnosed with cancer in September of 2010, followed by Merideth's cancer diagnosis in November 2011 and then Alex's grandpa in December of 2014. They lost a close family friend to melanoma in 2011.

With all of that in mind, 10-year-old Alex came up with a project idea for the 2016 Relay for Life fundraiser.

"It was never about the scarf, it was about raising money and awareness for fighting cancer."

Sewing Success

Alex created a plan to raise $100 for her Relay for Life team: Make infinity scarves, sell them at her elementary school and at a Relay for Life event, and donate the profits.

The first day Alex sold scarves at school she raised $150. Over the next few months, she sewed more than 300 scarves and raised $1,600 for their 12-member team. Not only did Alex surpass her fundraising goal, but she also helped boost cancer awareness with students and parents. "I feel blessed that this is her baby and her initiative I was just there to support her," says Kathlyn. It was never about the scarf, it was about raising money and awareness for fighting cancer. That's pretty awesome."

Kathlyn and Alex initially purchased fabric out of their own funds, but Merideth realized it was the perfect opportunity for a Thrivent Action Team, which helped pay for the fabric and related materials.

"We're grateful for the support we received from Thrivent," says Kathlyn. "Learning to live generously and use her God-given talents at a young age will remain with Alexandria for life."

Lighting up the community

During the 12-hour Englewood Relay for Life event, Alex and her family walked the track, sold scarves and participated in games, activities and entertainment.

Relay events include heartfelt moments when survivors and people affected by cancer walk a lap around the track cheered on and supported by those in attendance. After dark, luminarias are lit to remember those who lost their fight with cancer, someone currently battling, or anyone who's overcome it. "It's touching to walk a track lit only by candles," says Kathlyn. "Relay for Life events really are an amazing community fundraiser."

Lead your own team

Alex, Kathlyn and Merideth are just a few of the thousands of Thrivent members who support the fight against cancer using Thrivent resources. If you are a Thrivent member and would like to lead a Thrivent Action Team in support of Relay for Life or the American Cancer Society, go to Thrivent.com/actionteam to complete the application. Be sure to enter promo code: RFL2017. Thrivent will send you a customized Relay for Life Thrivent Action Kit, while supplies last.

Supporting the work of the American Cancer Society

In 2016, Thrivent members, friends and family joined Team Thrivent, resulting in 76 Thrivent Relay for Life teams and more than $161,000 being raised to help fight cancer. In addition, 450 members participated in Thrivent Action Teams supporting the American Cancer Society Relay for Life, raising more than $500,000.

Thrivent serves as an official American Cancer Society Partners Against Cancer organization. "We are honored to help strengthen the work the American Cancer Society does and visibly support our own members who are struggling with cancer," says Terry Rasmussen, president of Thrivent.

To walk or run as part of a Relay for Life team in your community, visit Relay for Life/ThriventFinancial page. Once there, click on "Join Us," enter your ZIP code and sign up for a relay near you. If you are the team captain, be sure to incorporate Thrivent Financial into your team name and select "Thrivent Financial" from the drop-down menu of national team corporations. Or click on the "Join a Team" link to become a team member.