Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan The National Angel Quilt has stopped at the Mall of Georgia as it tours around the United States bringing awareness and raising money for pediatric cancer research. The foundation Make Some Noise: Cure Kids Cancer was founded by Malcolm Sutherland-Foggio, 14, who is battling Ewing Sarcoma. The quilt which will continue to grow as it tours, currently features 99 children who have died due to cancer.
If You Go
• What: National Angel Quilt Tour
• When: Saturday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
• Where: Mall of Georgia, Dillard's Court, 3333 Buford Drive, Buford
• For more information: www.makenoise4kid...>
BUFORD -- Back in 2009, Brian Ernst was "Mr. West Hall High School," an honor bestowed by his peers at the learning facility located north of Buford. His name and picture in the yearbook that year affirmed his superlative status.
The young man was a comedian, said father, Steve. He was a natural at delivering one-liners and making people laugh. He was also a talented athlete, likely on his way to playing Division I baseball. That was before everything changed. That was before, as Steve put it, "the world fell apart."
At the age of 17 he was diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma: an aggressive, malignant bone tumor. He died on March 16, 2010, less than two years later.
These days, his father volunteers with causes he can get behind -- the kind of charitable organizations that aim to help children and young adults suffering from conditions similar to that which took his son's life.
On Friday, he spent the day in Buford, helping the Make Some Noise Foundation. Members of the organization arrived at Mall of Georgia on Thursday with a large, colorful quilt: a tribute to children who have died from pediatric cancer.
The idea for the traveling quilt was the brainchild of a young man from New Jersey diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma in 2009. Now 14 years old, Malcolm Sutherland-Foggio travels the country with the organization trying to raise money and awareness for pediatric cancer research.
So far, he and mother, Julie, have been quite successful. Since its inception, the foundation has raised more than $1 million.
The memory quilt honors children who have lost their lives, with pictures that adorn the multi-colored piece of cloth. Signatures and prayers from friends and relatives are scrawled all over the tapestry.
According to a news release from Make Some Noise, every child born in the United States has a 1 in 320 chance of being diagnosed with cancer before their 21st birthday.
"These children aren't just statistics," said Julie, standing before the massive quilt Friday. "These are real kids with real stories and we want to spread awareness."
She said that only about 3 percent of cancer research funding goes to pediatric cancer and that, unlike adult cancers, there is no early detection or screening for childhood cancer.
On Friday, as Julie pointed toward individual photos on the quilt, she talked in detail about the families and circumstances surrounding each child who passed away.
At the top of the quilt, near the center was a picture of Brian Ernst, dressed in a tuxedo: his senior picture from West Hall High School.
Beside the quilt, his dad, Steve, shook hands with strangers, telling them about the disease that took Brian and what they can do to help.
"We hope this effort will continue to grow," he said. "We want to get more people aware and involved to find a cure for this dreadful disease."