Relay seamstress Amber Phillips speaks outPublished 5:13pm Sunday, August 11, 2013
Before stage fright got the better of her, Amber Phillips, 16, of Niles, was scheduled to lead off Relay for Life by reading something she wrote about her grandfather at the opening ceremony on APEX, the Athletic and Physical Education CompleX behind Union High School.
Amber, a sophomore at Niles High School, said, “When I looked at all those people, I couldn’t do it. I wanted to, but it was too much for me, so my mom read it.”
She didn’t get emotional because of her grandpa, Gary Peffley, because he participated in the survivors lap.
“My grandpa asked me if I would like to read what I wrote at Relay,” Amber said. “I said, ‘Sure,’ but I have stage fright. I felt bad all those people saw me break down like that.”
Amber cannot play sports because of hip disease and she doesn’t sing in choir anymore, so Karla Arndt’s Sew Can You fashion design school at 111 Pennsylvania Ave. in Dowagiac became her “thing.”
Arndt, a 1979 Union High School graduate who lives at Sister Lakes, taught sewing for 20 of the 25 years she lived in Chicago.
“Karla’s good friends with my grandma,” Amber said, “so I tried sewing class. There’s a blanket at my house I needed to sew and I didn’t know how. The first thing I made was a backpack to carry thread and supplies. Then I made this (her red top) and now I’m working on a pair of shorts.”
“We don’t do it because we want to,” Amber wrote. “We don’t do it because we have to. We do it because we care. People feel the loss of their relatives every day. If you ever need a shoulder to cry on, don’t be afraid. Relay for Life is with you every step of the way, like your home or your family. No one will ever make you feel bad about yourself. They make you feel better. I keep my head held high and tell myself there is nothing I can’t do. Relay for Life is very supportive. Even if you had cancer, no one on your team would ever give up on you, no matter how many times they walked around that track — just like I haven’t given up on my grandpa. I have faith he will make it and hope. We all do.”