Sewing for safety: Coe family combats coronavirus


The struggles of those combating COVID-19 have hit home for the family of Kennedy (‘21) and Piper (‘20) Coe.

Utilizing their sewing skills and passion for helping others, the sisters started crafting homemade masks a month ago, distributing them to friends, family, health-care workers, and those with impaired immune systems. 

Their mother, Mrs. Jennifer Coe, drew her main inspiration for starting the family’s mask-making effort from Kennedy’s experience being immunocompromised.  Living with Juvenile Myositis (JM) places Kennedy in a high-risk group, forcing her to wear masks in some public situations.

“JM is a life-threatening disease which causes the body’s own immune system to attack healthy cells and tissues,” Mrs. Coe said. So when she saw people making their own masks at home, Mrs. Coe, who has been “sewing almost her entire life,” according to Kennedy, “…thought she’d do something to help.”

The Coe family has been working with a Facebook group called Amazing Mask Makers – Bloomington Normal and Surrounding Areas, which has 727 members since its creation on March 21.

“[The group] is made up of people in our community, making and distributing masks to those that need them – whether that be to hospitals, mandatory workplaces, or high-risk groups,” said Kennedy. 

“We’ve made over 100 masks as of right now, but we plan to continue making them as long as there is a demand,” Kennedy said.

The masks, which are made of patterned fabric and elastic, are based on a pattern from

The family, who have been spending their time inside, following the quarantining and social distancing recommendations, knows that they are “doing this for society at large, even if it means a change to our daily lives or future plans,” Kennedy said.

Beyond their recent mask making, the Coe’s have a history of  trying to help others in Kennedy’s situation, spending “a lot of time over the last 11 years fundraising and volunteering for the foundation of my autoimmune disease – CureJM.” The family has participated in various fundraisers for JM, including ‘Walk Strong to Cure JM’ in 2017 which raised over $7,000 to fund research for a cure.

The Ironmen family encourages anyone to show support for the coronavirus and JM, advising anyone interested to get involved in the mask-making and join the Amazing Mask Makers.