VIENNA - Donna Kramer's contribution to the News and Sentinel Half Marathon goes beyond preparing the packets ready to be picked up by runners the night before the race.
For several years, Kramer has used her creative talents with the sewing machine and made shirt-blankets as part of the raffle awards for both the 2-mile and half marathon events.
"I started making these shirt-blankets in 2003 for my kids who were involved in sports where they would get all these different T-shirts," Kramer said. "When I got involved with the (River City Runners and Walkers Club), the word got out so a few years later I decided to go into business because I couldn't keep up with the demands."
Photo by Kerry Patrick
News and Sentinel Half Marathon committee member Donna Kramer displays two of the shirt-blankets she has made over the years. Kramer will again donate one for each of the Half Marathon and 2-mile raffle winners at this year’s event, scheduled for Aug. 18.
Kramer has kept an exact count from her production line. To date, the number totals 246. Several have included the traditional West Virginia University theme or a Marshall University montage.
Several efforts resulted in personal favorites, including one with a Harley-Davidson motif and another highlighting Syracuse University. Last year, she presented Half Marathon committee member Sharon Marks with a shirt-blanket decked out mainly in black.
"I have to give credit to Jo Ellen Louden - years ago, she told me I had to see the blanket she made out of shirts for her son," Kramer said. "There was this French lady at the house and she was making these shirt-blankets. I thought, 'Wow, this is pretty simple. I can sew, and I can make them.'
"It's not like quilting which is painstakingly slow. I average about five hours for each blanket."
For this year's Half Marathon and 2-mile race raffle winners, Kramer's finished product will take advantage of the neon colors displayed on T-shirts made for last year's friends of the race.
In addition to donating awards for the raffle drawing, Kramer also serves on the Half Marathon committee. She will serve as a spotter in the lead truck for the men's elite runners then hand out medals at the finish line. The race is set for Saturday, Aug. 18.
"I also help coordinate bike patrol and it just amazes me that I have people calling me wanting to become a member of the bike patrol," Kramer said. "There is a waiting list."
Kramer and her husband, Hal, moved to the Mid-Ohio Valley from Ann Arbor, Mich., 15 years ago. They have two children, Kevin and Kelly. Hal Kramer drives the truck which leads the women's elite field through the half marathon course.
As for her shirt-blanket business, which is named DK's, Donna Kramer has a slogan which reads, "Turn those favorite T-shirts into a warm blanket." The fleece backing makes it ideal for those cold winter nights.
She already is taking orders for Christmas.
"Each one still lifts someone's life memories," Kramer said. "A friend in Connecticut had a son who died in a car accident and wanted to put his memories into a blanket. She wrote me a note she was not able to grieve until she got that blanket. Every night she would hold that blanket and that helped her move on."