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Latest USF gesture blankets Bissette with compassion

Longtime USF booster Jeff Fishman (left) and softball coach Ken Eriksen with a quilt -- made almost entirely of Bulls sports jerseys -- sent to softball player Meredith Bissette, who is battling cancer.

Photo provided by Jeff Fishman

Longtime USF booster Jeff Fishman (left) and softball coach Ken Eriksen with a quilt -- made almost entirely of Bulls sports jerseys -- sent to softball player Meredith Bissette, who is battling cancer.

USF softball player Meredith Bissette began treatments for chordoma cancer Thursday in Boston, but the unexpected transfusion -- hearty doses of craftsmanship and compassion -- arrived Monday.

A day after USF staged a home-run derby and silent auction to raise funds for Bissette's family, the Bulls sophomore received (via express mail) a quilt made almost entirely of USF athletic jerseys. Each sport was represented on the quilt -- made by Apollo Beach resident Joan Mynahan -- and each jersey bore Bissette's No. 00.

"The board wanted to do something for her," said USF alumnus Jeff Fishman, secretary of the Bulls Club board and himself a two-time cancer survivor. "The student-athletes surrounding their peers -- that's kind of the thought behind this. We're all one family."

Fishman, who owns a Tampa mortgage firm and regularly attends myriad Bulls sporting events, said his wife, Brandy, came up with the idea for the quilt. He told Mynahan, whose daughter used to work in his South Tampa office, that he envisioned a bunch of jerseys laid on the floor -- as if they'd just come off the athletes' backs -- and formed into a quilt.

"It's so opposite of what I'm used to because I'm such a precise quilter," said Mynahan, who took her first quilt class 37 years ago while pregnant with twins in New Hampshire. "That was quite a challenge."

Mynahan, who also sews quilts for LifeLink Foundation (her husband received a heart transplant a half-decade ago), said she stopped counting the number of hours she worked on the USF quilt at 35.

Fishman said Mynahan's fee was minimal; Mynahan said the cause was far more significant than the money.

"Absolutely," she said. "That's why I just stopped counting the hours. I just charged him 'x' amount and said the rest of my time would be my donation."

Bissette, a sophomore backup for the 22nd-ranked Bulls, was diagnosed with her illness -- which originated in her pelvis -- in early April. Video from the Bulls' home run derby can be found here.

[Last modified: Monday, May 9, 2016 5:00pm]

    

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