“I had been having this nagging feeling for a while that it was time for me to get out of real estate because I wasn’t enjoying it anymore,” said Debby. “One morning while watching The Today Show they did a segment on a Seattle woman who started making superhero capes for babies and kids fighting terminal illnesses. One of the little girls interviewed said wearing the cape made her feel brave. I thought to myself ‘I can do that’ – I thought it was a beautiful idea.”
After a quick phone call to her daughter to bounce the idea off and talk through the logistics, her charity, called Kids Capes of Courage, was born.
Founded just 2 years ago, Debby estimates she and her team of volunteers have made and donated more than 2,000 capes to various hospitals, schools, camps and charities, with the majority given to Akron Children’s Hospital.
An amateur sewer, Debby enlisted the help of a friend, who got her started by finding a pattern for the capes. With a core group that included super sewers and sisters Debbie Helmkamp and Denise Duffy, and Debby’s daughter, Monica Moyer, and daughter-in-law Tish Rowland, she was off and running.
“I utilized some of the same tools I used in real estate as far as meeting people and marketing Kids Capes of Courage to get the word out,” she said.
Debby’s church, Northampton United Methodist, offered a facility for cutting parties and soon she had service organizations offering to sew for her. Although Kids Capes of Courage is now affiliated with the Methodist Church – with 14 chapters in 7 states, Debby said they do not use religious or political symbols on their capes.
“We want this to be inclusive, not exclusive,” she said.
Funded strictly through private and corporate donations, Debby said things have come pretty easy.
“We got a huge donation of fabric from Jo-Ann Fabric,” she said. “This work is God-inspired. I get so much joy out of giving the capes away. I get tears in my eyes and my heart sings.”
“I read the book The Purpose Driven Life and at that time I really didn’t know what my purpose was, but now I do,” she said.
To donate, request capes, or learn more, visit kidscapesofcourage.org.