Alumna brightens up young patients’ days with homemade hospital gowns
With almost 5,000 homemade hospital gowns, Jessica Kidd (’17) has helped bring smiles to children all over the U.S. and in Guatemala.
Kidd, the founder of Gracie’s Gowns, designs and sews personalized gowns for children who suffer from chronic or life-threatening illnesses.
While working as a medic in medical transport and pediatric critical care, Kidd noticed that many of the children she served were unhappy about their gowns. Many times, the gown didn’t fit. And some children had allergic reactions to the chemicals used in the hospital laundry room.
When her friend’s daughter, Grace, passed away after battling neuroblastoma, Kidd wanted to honor her memory by making colorful gowns to help children better cope with hospital stays and enjoy more of the things they love.
“It gives them comfort and something to look forward to in a situation they don’t have control in,” said Kidd, who customizes each gown with the patient’s name and any pattern they want, from butterflies to cartoon characters. “Parents say it empowers their kids, to see themselves differently in the world. They don’t see themselves as another kid with cancer anymore; they see themselves as who they are, and it’s giving them a little piece of childhood that’s been stolen from them because they’re in the hospital all the time.”
Kidd’s efforts earned her a nomination for the L’Oreal Paris Women of Worth program, which recognizes philanthropists and entrepreneurs who volunteer their time for charity.
Kidd works out of her living room in Ruther Glen, Va., but hopes to start chapters across the country. Parents can request a gown on the website, GraciesGowns.org, where people can also send in donations to help cover the costs. Volunteers make a personal connection with every family, learning their stories and scheduling deliveries to the hospital. Sometimes the deliveries come with a “surprise box” of other items to help the children feel more comfortable during their stay.
While the website states that they hope children don’t need the gown for long, Kidd acknowledges that there is a tragic reality with this project.
“I get emotionally and mentally involved with these kids that I make gowns for, and when they pass away, it’s a very personal hit.”
She honors them with an annual memorial lantern release event and posts their pictures on a special Angels section of the website.
Kidd graduated from Liberty with a degree in interdisciplinary studies focusing on business and social studies. She is currently enrolled in Liberty’s online master’s degree in executive leadership program.
Read more stories of other inspiring Liberty University alumni in the latest issue of the Liberty Journal.