Jordan Phillips, 17, of Aberdeen, South Dakota, a junior at Aberdeen Central High School, has raised more than $110,000 to support women with breast cancer by sewing and selling fabric coffee-cup sleeves known as “cozys.” Jordan’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2015. “I was terrified I was going to lose my mom,” she said. “I needed an escape from the chaos of having a loved one who is sick, and I wanted to support other people who were going through what my family was experiencing.” Since she had been sewing things since she was 5, Jordan started sewing cozys in her bedroom after school, and then offered them on Facebook to raise money for the Susan G. Komen Foundation.
As word about Jordan’s “Cozys for the Cure” project spread via news and social media, she had to recruit family members, friends and schoolmates to meet the growing demand. Her cross country team pitched in with an assembly line that produced 200 cozys in one hour. Things really took off when a large retail chain agreed to stock 250,000 of Jordan’s coffee-cup sleeves in more than a thousand stores across the country, which required Jordan to outsource production to an apparel company. In addition to supporting the Komen Foundation’s breast cancer research, Jordan’s fundraising has paid for free mammograms in rural, underserved areas. Jordan was especially touched when someone gave out her cozys as a wedding favor to honor the legacy of a mother who died of breast cancer. It was then that “I realized the deep emotional impact of this project,” she said.