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Comfort Capes A Labor Of Love

By Kelli Grant
Published: November 4, 2009, 10:05 PM

A Sioux Falls couple is bringing a smile to the face of the sickest of children right here in KELOLAND. It's a story we brought you this summer as the Pankratz family worked hour after hour making Wonder Capes for kids at Sanford Children's Hospital. It's a labor of love that's now getting national attention.

Since we first introduced you to Sioux Falls mother of three, Amy Pankratz, in May, hundreds and hundreds of requests have poured in for her wonder capes.

“It's well over a thousand,” Amy Pankratz said.

She made that first cape after a request from her own daughter; a simple, 'Mommy, I want a super hero princess cape,' has turned into something much bigger.

“You know it's not just about us. We're just the vehicle who makes the cape. It's about those little super stars and super heroes that they truly are,” Amy said.

After her daughter, Isabella, asked for her cape during a short stay at Sanford Children's Hospital, Pankratz knew it was something every sick child needed.

It was then the wonder cape became a comfort cape for sick children and their families.

“Every child is going through something. It may be something different one hour of the day versus another. They may be doing an MRI, a cat scan. They may be just flitting around the hallways or they may not be feeling well in their bed,” Amy said.

But with that cape on, they become simply a child, not a sick child.

And this fabric - cut out, pre washed, and sewn together- becomes so much more.

“I don't even know what to expect once this thing really picks up speed because really, it's still kind of new and it's in the infancy stage yet of really where we want to take it,” Michael Pankratz said.

It might get going sooner than they thought. The CBS Early Show caught wind of the effort and came from New York City to Sioux Falls to meet the family and the children they're giving so much to.

The crew spent two days in KELOLAND, making their way around Sanford Children's Hospital, seeing the capes firsthand and hearing the stories.

They're stories the Pankratz family reads through every single day.

“To have a cape or just a couple pieces of fabric that are sewn together with love, it really brings emotion to you when you read that,” Michael said.

When a request or a donation comes in through the Wonder Cape Web site, Pankratz makes sure she gets it right. Whether they like frogs or the Vikings, every cape is made with that child in mind.

“My thoughts are specifically with that child, with that family and what they're going through. And all that quiet time is devoted to them in reflection, thought and prayer,” Amy said.

It's a prayer she'll keep praying, even though she wishes she didn't have to.

'"It breaks my heart that any child has to go through this and not only the child, it affects their brothers and sisters, their families, their grandparents, just everyone. So on one spectrum, I'm frustrated that I even need to make this for that reason and on the other hand, I am so grateful that even if I get a crack of a smile, like, 'Hey, this is kind of cool,' I’ve done my job,” Amy said.

With national attention, this job, on top of raising a family, just got bigger. But to this family, it's worth every cut, every stitch and every smile they get in return.

The CBS Early Show will air its story this month. Meanwhile you can donate a cape to a sick child, or even their brother or sister. You can also find Wonder Capes on Facebook.

© 2009 KELOLAND TV. All Rights Reserved.