“It all started because of our son’s beautiful bald head,” begins Becca Pace’s description for her Etsy page featuring knitted beanies.
It tells the story of Carter Pace, a considerate 10-year-old who wanted to help other children experiencing cancer treatment by sharing the lovely hats his mother makes.
Pace was diagnosed at the end of July 2021 with medulloblastoma. According to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation — funders of children’s cancer research — medulloblastoma is “the most common malignant brain tumor in children.” It originates in the back part of the brain called the cerebellum, the foundation noted.
“In up to one-third of cases,” St. Baldrick’s details, “it can spread to other parts of the brain and spinal cord” and “most cases are diagnosed before age 10.”
The doctors at Seattle Children’s Hospital removed a large tumor from Carter’s brain.
“We were in Seattle for two and a half months for chemo and got to come home in October,” Becca Pace said.
Since then, they go to Seattle Children’s every six weeks, she said, and for the next two weeks they go for a day each week, then they have three weeks off and it “starts over again.”
“This round of chemo ends in November and we don’t know what it’s going to be after that,” Becca Pace said.
She said her son prefers to keep his head covered by a hat; in December she began to knit beanies.
“He loved them — he has four,” she said.
At the hospital, “there is a goodie basket for the kids and family members where people supply little treats, crafts, toys, or handmade gifts, etc,” Pace wrote.
Carter wanted to contribute so when Becca began making the hats, Carter asked her to share them with the other bald children.
“We take a bunch every trip to put in the giveaway basket,” Becca Pace said. She estimates the family has given away 50 so far.
“Everyone loved the beanies and soon were asking me if they could get one also,” she said.
To fund the supplies, Pace began to sell the hats, both at etsy.com/shop/HugYourHead and at the Southern Nibble food truck near Sequim.
“They hug your head,” Caleb Messinger of Southern Nibble said. “They’re gonna feel really good and soft. And they’re stretchy.”
Etsy listings have no shipping charge, and Becca Pace said she and her husband will deliver them to locals.
“Every beanie that is sold the money goes right back to buy more supplies so we can take more each trip,” she said on her Etsy page.
In an interview, Becca Pace said that at this point they are donating more hats than they are selling.
“People are donating yarn to me, so we kind of broke even,” she said. “Paying for the tags to be personally made, that is what sets us back,” she said.
The tags are made of faux leather with a metal screw, and each one has a “fighters’ ribbon on it, along with our little fighter’s initials.”
Star on the field
Becca Pace described Carter as “very caring, very considerate of other people and their feelings. Through all this he’s really kept good spirits, considering that he’s very athletic and a soccer star.”
“I coach soccer,” said Messinger, “and Carter is an exceptional athlete. He was up in division with the older kids. He’s an absolute fighter … he’s super strong and going through a lot.”
Erin Henderson of Sequim Junior Soccer wrote that the beanies will also be sold in conjunction with SJS, because “Carter and his family are such a big part of our SJS family, we always want to help out where we can.
“When we saw the Hug Your Head beanies being made, and knew they were going to give back to not only Carter’s family, but also to other kiddos around Washington who are in similar situations, it was a no brainer!
“Becca has started working away to build her stash of SJS colored beanies [purple and gold], so that our SJS families, and any other Sequim sports can help support Carter and his friends over at Seattle Children’s, all while looking fabulous in their Sequim spirit colors,” Henderson wrote.
“We can’t wait to get heads all over Sequim covered in purple and gold for Carter!”
Becca Pace said that the tumor affected Carter’s coordination and “he can get around the house okay holding onto walls for support” well enough to play jokes on his siblings, but “everywhere else he has to walk with a walker or be assisted.
“He’s in physical therapy and he should regain everything over time,” she said.
“The major thing we always tell people is that for the circumstances, we’re doing very well because he could be doing a lot worse,” she said.
“They are an amazing family,” Messinger said. “What a great idea for Becca to make a difference for these kids.”
Those interested can get beanies at Southern Nibble, located at the John Wayne Marina RV Park from 11:30 a.m.-7 p.m. on Fridays or every other Thursday from 11:30 a.m.-5 p.m. rotating between the RV Park and R. Corner at 256421 Highway 101, Port Angeles.
To order a pre-knitted or custom hand-delivered beanie visit etsy.com/shop/HugYourHead.
To contribute directly to the family, visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-support-carter-and-his-family.