13-year-old creates 'COVID memorial quilt' to pay tribute to lives lost in the pandemic

What started out as a final project for her eighth-grade history class turned into a “healing experience for everyone who lost someone.” Meet Madeleine Fugate, the 13-year-old who created the COVID Memorial Quilt in an effort to represent the many lives lost by the coronavirus. In doing so, she turned a moment of darkness into light, her mother shares.

Katherine Fugate, Madeleine’s mother, was a young activist in the 1980s who worked on the AIDS memorial quilt when she was 20 years old. When she learned about her mother’s experience and the millions of lives lost during the AIDS epidemic, Madeleine knew that she wanted to create something similar to honor those that have died from COVID-19.

The Fugates explain that in both health crises, there are many lives lost and not adequately honored. As news outlets share updates on the COVID-19 death toll, it is important to remember that behind each statistic is a human being lost.

“The whole mission statement of the COVID Memorial Quilt is they aren’t numbers; they’re people,” Katherine tells Yahoo Life.

Each memorial square is an 8 inch by 8 inch square of fabric. Madeleine says she deliberately chose the number eight because it represents the infinity sign and symbolizes that even though this person is gone, their memory and energy will live on forever.

The quilt is sewn together by Madeleine herself, but the personalized squares are sent in from all over the world. Each piece of fabric represents a person or group of people who have fallen victim to the coronavirus.

Every memorial square is unique in that it may include pictures of the honoree, hobbies that they enjoyed and anything that would memorialize them personally.

Most memorial squares come to the Fugates with a personalized letter that explains the meaning behind the design and more information about the person they are mourning.

“What we love about receiving letters is it makes the square come alive to us,” Katherine says. “We know COVID is a painful death and we want to be a part of the healing…these letters help us hold that person in our mind and hearts as we make the quilt.”

“It’s gone beyond a school project. It’s now a global representation of healing,” says Katherine.

The Fugates plan to continue to make the quilt for as long as they receive squares.

If you want to honor a life that was lost to COVID-19, please visit covidquilt2020.com for more information.

Video produced by Jenny Miller

For the latest coronavirus news and updates, follow along at https://news.yahoo.com/coronavirus. According to experts, people over 60 and those who are immunocompromised continue to be the most at risk. If you have questions, please reference the CDC’s and WHO’s resource guides.

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