Blanket donation continues Boy Scout's effort

March 1, 2010 7:54:33 PM PST
There was a special delivery in Walnut Creek on Monday to a clinic that is part of Children's Hospital Oakland. Hundreds of blankets were delivered by the family and friends of a young man whose life was cut short by heart failure at a Walnut Creek high school in December.

The blankets are both a tribute to Trevor Tonsing and a thank you to Children's Hospital.

The sign outside Jon and Anita Tonsing's Walnut Creek home lists 240 blankets in chalk. New blankets began arriving daily in the weeks after their 16-year-old son, Trevor, collapsed from heart failure at Northgate High School in Walnut Creek.

Many were donated by Boy Scouts, others by fellow students. All are handmade, with knotted fringes, filling Trevor's bedroom in shoulder high piles. His parents say the blanket drive is the continuation of a project Trevor had come up with himself as he was earning his promotion to Eagle Scout.

"It was his eagle project, so the idea was that he'd create 200 tie blankets and he would give them to his cardiologist to give to patients at Children's Hospital," said Trevor's mother Anita Tonsing.

The choice of Children's Hospital Oakland carried personal significance for Trevor. Shortly after his birth, doctors discovered he had a congenital heart defect and ultimately performing a series of surgeries that would give him 16 years of life.

"Trevor being born 16 years ago, he was on the forefront of that type of surgery that he had," said Dr. Howard Rosenfeld from Children's Hospital Oakland.

Rosenfeld is a pediatric cardiologist at Children's. He says the bond with young patients is often forged over decades.

"When you're born a cardiologist takes over your care, and he's your cardiologist until you're 21 years old. So we develop very strong relationships with the patients," said Rosenfeld.

The plan is for young cardiac patients to each receive a blanket to take home with them.

"The fabric is very personal, the people that are contributing spend a lot of time and thought into what they want to do and what would be appropriate. 'Is it a girl blanket, a boy blanket, a sports blanket, a baby blanket?' So we've got all kinds of blankets. I don't know that any two are the same," said Trevor's father Jon Tonsing.

The Tonsings have created a website with instructions on how to cut and make the blankets. Trevor's best friend from high school is helping run a new foundation to collect and distribute them.

"I'm sure a lot o those are from kids at Northgate. Everyone loved Trevor, he was one of the funniest kids at school," said Trevor's friend Will Blumhardt.

It is a legacy of warmth that will now be passed on to some of the Bay Area's youngest heart patients. The non-profit is called Trevor's Eagle Blanket Foundation.

Written and produced by Tim Didion.