About the Challenge

The first Project Linus Mystery Quilt challenge took place in 2015 and was called “Lukey the Lucky Penguin.” The quilt was a tribute to Luke Shields, Cari’s son and Mary Balagna’s grandson. More information about Lukey is in the story below.

We hope to continue this Project Linus Mystery Quilt Challenge with a new quilt each year. The 2016 Challenge is called Gracie’s Get Well Garden, named after Mary’s healthy and happy granddaughter Gracie. We hope you’ll join us!

Lukey the Lucky Penguin

A note from Luke’s Mom...

Dear Project Linus Blanketeers,

I want to thank each of you for making blankets for Project Linus. When my boys Luke and Logan were born, Logan was in the NICU for five days. Five days may not seem long, but to a brand new mother they were forever. How thrilled I was when we were given two Project Linus blankets—one for each baby. We took Logan’s to the hospital to keep in his bed, and Luke’s was placed in the crib he and Logan would share as soon as Logan was well enough to come home.

The person who made and donated those blankets had no idea the inspiration she was following as she sewed and quilted those blankets. She didn’t know when she chose the fabric for the front that it was the same fabric print that my baby blanket had been made from twenty-five years earlier. She didn’t know as she made them the same on the front and different on the back that those blankets would go to twin boys who had a mother that wanted things to coordinate, not match. She also didn’t know as she chose the white for the back of one and blue for the back of the other that those were the colors of the newborn hats each baby wore in the hospital (and the way we could tell who was who!)

I know that each of you have been inspired to choose fabric, colors and patterns that will be perfect for the child who will receive your blanket. These children may be in a situation like that of Luke and Logan—perhaps they’ve had to stay in the hospital for a few days, or perhaps their brother or sister or mom or dad are in the hospital, and the child is scared and needs some comfort. How wonderful it is to see the smile that creeps across their faces as they realize they’re getting a present—a soft cuddly blanket they can keep forever. Perhaps the child will be undergoing chemotherapy and will take the blanket with them to each of their visits. Perhaps the child’s parent will be sent to serve our country for an extended period of time, and the blanket will be the hug that child needs.

Or maybe the child will lose a family member, and will cling to that blanket as Logan does to the one he received when Luke unexpectedly passed away on February 8, 2006, 2½ years later. You never know the people you are touching because of your service—not just the child who receives the blanket, but also the parent or grandparent who can feel that for one instant or two they can take the pain or fear or hurt away from their sweet child by wrapping them in that soft, beautiful blanket—the one YOU made for them.

Thank you,

Lukey’s Mom, Cari

This is a picture of Cari Shields with her twin boys Logan (left) and Luke (right). Luke passed away on February 8th, 2006 at the age of 2½ years old from an undetected heart condition called Prolonged QT. Lukey The Penguin was named after Luke.

Please go to www.sads.org to learn more about Prolonged QT.


“Lukey the Lucky Penguin” is a tribute to Luke Shields, Cari’s son and Mary Balagna’s grandson.