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Relay for Life quilt honors cancer patients, survivors and victims


By Jason A. Smith
Times Correspondent 

  Mary Mellott of McDonough said she wants to use her creative talents to pay tribute to those who have been in a battle for their lives, and those who are still fighting.

A Relay for Life quilt, sewn by McDonough resident, Mary Mellott is now on display at the McDonough Library.                        Special photo

  Mellott, over the last several months, has worked on a Relay for Life quilt, embroidered with the names of cancer patients and survivors, as well as others who have succumbed to the disease.

  “We do consider anyone who’s fought cancer to be a hero,” she said. “I don’t know that I could do it myself. It’s mainly to honor them.”

  The quilt is currently on display at the McDonough Public Library, 1001 Florence McGarity Blvd. It features the names of 128 people who have fought various forms of cancer, each of which are identified by a specific color.

  Mellott was serving as a captain of McDonough Presbyterian Church’s Relay for Life team when her quilt project began last year. She said she was inspired to make the quilt while working at A Scarlet Thread, a quilt shop in McDonough.

  It was there that she met KellyDee Guess, a Stockbridge resident and breast cancer survivor.

  “She was proud to be a survivor and thought it would be nice to honor survivors,” said Mellott.

  Guess said she came up with the original quilt concept as a way to honor her uncle, who passed away after bouts with lung cancer and bone cancer, and her aunt, a colon cancer survivor. Although she was unaware of Relay for Life at the time, Guess said she wanted to raise money and awareness about cancer.

  “During the process of going through breast cancer, I realized that every type of cancer has its own color,” said Guess. “Pink is the most famous. I figured everyone else didn’t realize there were all these different colors representing different cancers. I said, I’ve got to find somebody who can make this quilt a reality.”

  Guess said she is “absolutely thrilled” that Mellott used her idea as a springboard to make the Relay for Life quilt.

  Mellott then presented the quilt idea to her Relay for Life team. They opted to use it as their 2014 fundraiser to tie in with this year’s theme of "Be a Hero and Relay for Life.” Mellott collected $25 for each name on the quilt from local residents who wanted to honor their loved ones who have fought cancer. The quilt generated $3,200 for the American Cancer Society.

  “We decided that rather than raffling it off, it would be a traveling quilt like the AIDS quilt, so that people could enjoy it,” said Mellott.

  The battle against cancer is close to Mellott’s heart. Her mother, Marilyn Pendleton, died of breast cancer in 1988. Pendleton’s name is among those included on the quilt.

  “I have other family members’ names on the quilt, but my mother, she’s the reason I ‘Relay for Life,’” said Mellott.

  Debbie Withers of McDonough participates in Relay for Life and is helping to get the word out about the quilt. Withers praised Mellott for her work on the endeavor.

  “I just love the whole idea of a quilt to raise money for cancer research,” said Withers. “It’s a beautiful thing, it’s long-lasting, a great way to honor our loved ones and it’s handmade with a lot of love.”

  The Relay for Life quilt previously appeared at McDonough Presbyterian and Union Grove High School, and will be featured at additional locations over the next year. Those locations include Piedmont Henry Hospital, A Scarlet Thread and the Henry County Performing Arts Center.

  The tour will also take the quilt outside Henry County, to the Hope Lodge in Atlanta. Mellott, who created the quilt on a volunteer basis, said she is looking for more locations to display the quilt and will donate her time to make another one in 2015.

  “I have a pre-order form for people to get a spot on next year’s quilt,” she said. “I’m hoping to get 500 names for next year. I’m actually hoping to get repeat names that are on this year also. They don’t have to be new names. I would hope they want to be on it every year.”

  To host the Relay for Life quilt on its current tour, or to reserve a spot on the 2015 quilt, e-mail Mary Mellott at



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