The Strawberry Patchers, a local chapter of the Arizona Quilters Guild, have made over 2,000 quilts, donating them to the men and women of the Department of Public Safety. Officers use these blankets as tools of the trade to console victims.
Last Thursday, the group presented DPS Officer Roger Cain with a quilt of his very own. Cain is the son of former Undersheriff Harry Cain, and patrolled the highways of Rim country from 1992 to 1997 before transferring to the motorcycle division in Phoenix.
During his 13 years on the road with DPS, Cain said he had personally handed out three or four of the quilts made by the Strawberry Patchers.
In September of 1999, Cain was injured during a routine traffic stop when he was hit by a van driven by a man having an epileptic seizure. The injuries, primarily to the left side of his body, will prevent him from returning to active duty.
"I don't remember anything about (the accident)," Cain said.
Member Marque Jacobs, a friend of Cain's, brought the idea to the group and they enthusiastically began planning and sewing. About 20 women stitched on the Southwestern- style quilt. Included in the work is one patch of handwritten thank-yous and notes of appreciation for Cain's dedication to the job.
In an emotionally charged speech, Jacobs presented the quilt to Cain with about a dozen of her fellow chapter members looking on.
"This is a 'to-be-used' quilt," Jacobs said.
"It will be. This is neat," Cain said. "It is a shame that something tragic has to happen before you find out how much people care."
Since his accident, Cain has received many cards, letters and gifts from people all over the state.
"It gives you something to live for," he said.
It also helped his family realize they were not alone during the rough times. Cain and his wife of six years have a 2-year-old girl and a 3-year-old boy at home.
Cain is now providing advance training to fellow DPS officers. He also speaks about his accident and the effect it's had on his life to graduating officers.