When Nicole Sajkowski was first diagnosed with cancer and visited Children's Hospital Detroit, she noticed that not every child had a nice, comfortable pillow. So she got her friends together to create 60 bright, fluffy fleece pillows.
Now, nearly eight years after she attended Utica Community Schools, the students who walked the same halls as her are carrying on her legacy.
Students from both Switzer Elementary and Eisenhower High School recently got together to stitch new pillows that are being donated through an organization that remembers Nicole's wishes - A Special Angel's Touch.
In addition to making the pillows, the event also allowed students to stitch together new friendships.
"This is a great way to get the older students together with the younger students," Eisenhower senior Rachel McCready said, a member of the school's National Honor Society. "We can get to know each other while we work on the project."
The students created about 100 bright fleece pillows that will be donated to those in need of a soft, cozy item during their struggles. Since its inception, A Special Angel's Touch has provided more than 1,000 pillows to local shelters and hospitals frequented by children.
"Her only request was that we carry on the mission of seeing that more pillows be made and shared with those who could use a little comforting," reads a card that is provided to a child receiving a pillow.
Switzer students funded the materials through its annual Fun Run, coordinated by Switzer teacher Jami Crum.
"I think helping others is very important," said Switzer student Nick DiClemente, a member of the school's student council. "There are a lot of people who don't have a lot of money, and we can help them."
Looking at nearly 50 students putting together pillows, Nicole's childhood friend - Lauren Kayser - said the afternoon brought back memories of a special angel.
"I think it's great," Kayser said. "No one here really knew Nicole, but yet they are keeping her wish going."