Hats of Hope: Teen cancer survivor delivers hundreds of hand made hats to Duke Children's Hospital

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- A Garner teen is continuing her five-year-old tradition of delivering knitted hats to Duke Children's hospital after her own battle with leukemia.

The delivery is a family tradition for 15-year-old Ryan Thomas and her grandmother Helen McNeill.

"Getting back to a hospital that has saved my life and being able to give back to kids," said Ryan. "I feel really great giving back to a hospital and the kids in here make me feel really warm and I hope I can do this forever."

For five years, the duo makes a trip to Duke Children's Hospital every December and delivers hundreds of hand-knit hats to kids who will be calling the hospital home for the holidays.

"We take this opportunity to remember the kids that are still going through this process," said McNeill. "We just want to be that beacon of hope."

That's because Ryan is a leukemia survivor herself.

"And that Christmas was really scary, she was a really sick little three-year-old," McNeill said. "Duke totally embraced us, made us feel safe."

On Friday, the duo hoped to help make others facing the same battle feel that too, with a simple hat of hope.

"We believe in prayer, and we believe it goes a long way and so is every hat that I make. I'm thinking about a child is going to be wearing it, and praying for their success or recovery."
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