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A Stitch in Time
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A Stitch in Time

Singer Loreena McKennitt with Carol Miller at the Stratford auction


In the October 2000 issue of Homemaker's, in an article called "A Stitch in Time," writer Paula Todd told readers about a group of women who are using innovative methods to raise money for research and support groups for women with breast cancer.

One of these women, Carol Miller, of Stratford, Ont., a breast cancer survivor herself, decided to raise money by bringing together women and their supporters to stitch quilts in a "survivors' sewing circle." Each quilt would represent the myriad men and women needed to carry victims through the ordeal of cancer. A longtime quilter herself, Miller thought The Quilt would be both the medium and the message.

The word went out; the idea caught on and they received 156 quilts from across the country. They were auctioned off at a gala dinner in Stratford in November, 2000, (bids ranged from $500 to $2,700) and raised an amazing $106,000 for breast cancer support. Says Miller, "It has touched a lot of people in a lot of neat ways. That's what it's all about."

We spoke to Carol Miller recently to find out how the 2001 quilters are doing. This year they have 351 spectacular quilts and plan to hold the auction at the Stratford Festival Theatre on Saturday Nov. 10, 2001. Says Miller, "The display is awesome. I believe this is the largest display of quilts in North America and certainly will be the largest auction of its kind."

"This connection between strangers is what this project is all about," adds Miller. "It's difficult for me to articulate the power of the support given and received and the incredibly positive long-term effect this can have on survival and quality of life. The project raises money, not for research but for support programs that can reach out and touch someone."

As knowledge of the project grows, support has arrived from all quarters. Loreena McKennitt, the popular musician, has become the honorary chair. Says Miller, "She is an incredibly generous woman in a very quiet way; very supportive of this community."

Perhaps the best example of the healing process is told by Miller. "One of the quilts was sent from a family in Cornwall that lost a daughter in her 30s and left behind a young family and grieving parents...they wanted to celebrate her life, bring closure to the family and at the same time raise money to help someone else."

For more information about Celebration of Survivors: A Breast Cancer Support Program, check out the Web site at; 50 of the quilts will be shown there (along with the stories of their creators) and e-mailed bids will be accepted until October 30. Miller is also planning on releasing a catalogue of the quilts.