Kailey Druffel

Daughter Takes Mom's Legacy Forward with Hat Project

For as long as 18-year-old Kailey Druffel can remember in fact, even before she was born Virginia Mason has been part of her life. Her mother, Shelly, was a surgical tech and a beloved member of the Operating Room team at Virginia Mason Hospital and Seattle Medical Center for seven years. Kailey’s connection continued to grow even after her mother passed away from breast cancer in 2003. Kailey was raised by her grandparents, having also lost her father, Tim, to a fishing accident a year earlier.

Inspired by her mother's experience and caring nature, Kailey began a high school project called Hats for Hope, in which she and several classmates crocheted hats for patients who were losing their hair to chemotherapy. "When my mom went through treatment, her head was always cold, so she would wear my dad's hunting hats or hats around the house in general. And she just loved wearing hats," she explains. "I wanted to do something in memory of her that would kind of help me be at peace and that I know she would be proud of me for doing."

In July, Kailey and the hats traveled across the state so she could donate them to patients at the Floyd & Delores Jones Cancer Institute, calling it the perfect place for them. She hopes the hats impart a message of caring to recipients: "There are people who are thinking about them and praying for them, that they kind of have little secret angels who want to help out."

Kailey’s Hats for Hope project is just one of her many philanthropic endeavors. She also volunteers in a Salvation Army soup kitchen, participates in numerous church programs, including one that provides shelter to homeless families, and she sponsors two young children in Africa. "My parents left me some money, and I figured that these kids could use it more than I could," she says.

The recent high school graduate started college this fall at Washington State University, majoring in biochemistry, and plans to go on to medical school and become an orthopedic surgeon. One could say that medicine, just like giving back, is in her bones.

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