Students launch nonprofit to honor friend
Teens will make hats to comfort cancer patients
When Codi Alexander was in the hospital for almost a week last month after she was hit by a sport utility vehicle while crossing the street, friends of the Gaithersburg teenager thought about how much time chronically ill patients spend in the hospital and about what Alexander would have done.
In the weeks after her Aug. 10 death, three of her classmates at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville began organizing a charity in her honor, Codi's Hats, to make baseball caps for children with cancer.
"Those five days were really frightening and scary for us, but there are families who have children in there for years or even a lifetime," Codi's Hats co-president Kristy Choi, 16, of Germantown said. "I've always been a project kind of person, and to cope with the grief I wanted to start something. We feel like we're taking something positive from something shocking."
Alexander, 16, was on her bike when she was struck by a Honda CR-V shortly before 3 p.m. Aug. 5 while crossing an entrance ramp to Sam Eig Highway at its intersection with Great Seneca Highway in Gaithersburg. She was wearing a helmet and was in a crosswalk. The incident is under investigation, Montgomery County Police spokeswoman Lucille Baur said. Witnesses are asked to call 301-840-2435.
"We're touched that they were inspired by Codi's life and Codi's sense of service to others," her father, Bruce Alexander, said. "I think this probably says more about these young ladies — Codi's name is only a vehicle. I think this says quite a bit about them and their sense of service."
"It's beautiful, it's really very kind of them to do, just to put that together," her mother, Lisa Polak, said. "It's just amazing."
Alexander was involved in service projects at church and school, so starting a nonprofit was a natural choice, according to organizers of Codi's Hats, which includes Choi, co-president Wendy Cai and vice president Austin Trupp. They were inspired to focus on children with cancer based on the experiences of a friend, a cancer survivor to whom Alexander once offered to donate a kidney if he needed it, Cai said. He told his friends that one of the worst parts of treatment was losing his hair, Choi said.
"She was so giving to everyone, so we were thinking what if we make hats for kids?" Cai, 16, of Germantown said. "We're using white baseball caps and putting on ribbons, decorations, fun stuff."
The group has begun making contacts with hospitals and plans to take requests for specially made hats for patients. They also hope to take Codi's Hats nationwide and have been in contact with students on the West Coast.
"I hope she would be pleased," Trupp, 16, of North Potomac said of Alexander. "I think she would definitely look down with a smile because we thought it would totally get the essence of her."
The donations have already begun coming in online, and about 70 people have expressed interest in attending Codi's Hats' first decorating session Saturday, Cai said.
"Even if this weren't for her, if she was alive she would be so supportive and she'd be one of the first people in here to get something going," Choi said. "Codi's still bringing people together."
Codi's Hats will host its first hat-making session from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. Saturday at St. Rose of Lima church, 17701 Clopper Road in Gaithersburg. To donate, visit www.codishatssite.yolasite.com.