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Autumn Cruz /

I Care: Handmade pillowcases help patients fight cancer

Published: Monday, Aug. 20, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 3B
Last Modified: Monday, Aug. 20, 2012 - 6:41 am

Wearing hot pink and a smile, Madison Zenker, 13, confidently walks into the Pediatric Infusion Center at the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center, carrying bags of pillowcases with colorful themes, each as bright as she is.

She helps cancer patient Bryan Garcia, 11, pick one with dogs on it for his bedroom.

Zenker made a carnival-themed pillowcase for her great aunt, Willie Garrett, who died from ovarian cancer in 2009.

Garrett loved it and brought it to all her treatments and hospital stays.

That inspired Zenker, at age 10, to found Cases for Cheer, a nonprofit that gives the handmade pillowcases to patients.

"I feel so accomplished," Zenker said. "When I see their smiles, I feel so amazing. I know I can't cure cancer, but I can make people with cancer happy."

To nominate your community hero for the I Care column, email

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