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Published October 15, 2013, 08:43 PM

VIDEO: Fargo Davies senior leads drive to keep chemotherapy patients warm

FARGO – Siddharth Gupta can’t banish cancer, but he knows a quilt can chase away a chill.

By: Helmut Schmidt, INFORUM

FARGO – Siddharth Gupta can’t banish cancer, but he knows a quilt can chase away a chill.

For someone trying to make it through chemotherapy, that’s medicine that warms the toes and the soul, he said.

Gupta, a Fargo Davies High School senior, is trying to spread the news about the charity he founded, Quilt for Cure. It provides quilts and hand-tied blankets to cancer patients in Minnesota and North Dakota.

Since he started the organization last year, Quilt for Cure has raised $7,000 and distributed about 250 quilts and blankets, thanks to local businesses, quilters and fellow students who’ve gotten wrapped up in the campaign.

As a volunteer with the American Cancer Society, Gupta heard cancer patients and survivors tell of shivering, and feeling alone or helpless, he said.

“I really felt I had an obligation to help these people, to make a difference,” he said Tuesday.

A quilt handles the shivering, and carries something of the giver with it, Gupta said.

“A quilt is something that people can really express their views with. A quilt can be many different colors, different designs, different sizes. … So it is something people can show and express their love and sympathy for these people, and show that they’re not alone in this fight and that we can really help them out.”

Approaching friends, relatives and neighbors brought in $250 and a couple of quilts at the start, he said.

So he dialed up the effort, creating a website, and partnering with several businesses and the Essentia Health Regional Foundation. He is also helped by fellow Davies seniors Zain Qarni, Kathleen Marsh and Andrew Park.

A good portion of the money raised buys material at a steep discount from Wal-Mart, Gupta said. That material goes to help students from Davies’ National Honor Society, Key Club and Leo Club make tie blankets, and to three quilting clubs in Park Rapids, Minn.

The rest of the cash buys finished quilts, he said.

The quilts and blankets have gone to patients at Essentia Health in Duluth, Park Rapids and Detroit Lakes in Minnesota, and Fargo and Wahpeton in North Dakota, Gupta said.

His parents, both of them doctors at Essentia, are proud of their son’s work.

“He has done a great project. It was something I didn’t think about,” said his father, Mahendra Gupta.

“A lot of patients thank him. I’m hearing that every day,” Mahendra Gupta said.

“He’s a very sincere kid. I’m thinking it may go much farther,” said his mother, Parul Gupta.

Gupta said he would like to expand Quilt for Cure’s giving to patients at Sanford hospitals, and eventually cover all of the cancer patients in North Dakota and Minnesota. After that, he wants to take the effort nationwide, he said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583