Along a narrow road in southeast Topeka, there’s a memorial to a young college student who died in a car crash with a drunk driver.
The crash happened in 2002, Jennifer Dultmeier was just 19-years-old when she died in the crash. Jennifer was a passenger in the car, the drunk driver was one of her best friends she had known since second grade.
The night of the crash Lori Dultmeier, Jennifer’s mom got a phone call she will never forget, “Jennifer’s been in an accident and I said is she, okay? And they said to come.”
By the time Lori and her family arrived at the hospital, Jennifer was in surgery.
“We waited and I’m not sure how long we waited,” Lori said. “But then the doctor called us into a small room and just said that he had done all that he could.”
Jennifer died on the operating table, her friend driving the car that night survived.
Jennifer’s life was cut short just as she was starting college at Washburn University in Topeka. Where even Lori joined her to take a ceramics class, “It was her idea for us to take a class together at Washburn,” Lori said while wiping away tears from her eyes, “It was a beautiful time of her life.”
A few weeks after the crash Lori received an unexpected gift. Some people working in the emergency room the night of the crash had cleaned the quilt draped over Jennifer’s body.
“They felt compelled is what they said, felt compelled to bring us the quilt,” she said.
Lori admits that night at the hospital she didn’t think much about the quilt, but she did notice it, “When you’re seeing your daughter for the first time dead, the quilts not going to… that was secondary.”
Over time Lori realized the quilt did help that night in the hospital. It brought color to the room, and in a way, it softened the pain for Lori and her family.
Instead of seeing her daughter covered in a stale white blanket, it was a beautiful quilt filled with yellow and white patches, but mostly purple, Jennifer’s favorite color.
“The quilt made everything nicer,” Lori said. “You know, it’s a hard thing to do, it’s a hard thing to do.”
A few years after receiving the quilt Lori decided she wanted to pay it forward, “So I said during Christmas or birthdays, Jennifers birthday, I’ll get a quilt since I can’t buy her anything,” she said. “I’ll buy a quilt in memory of her and take it to the hospital.”
Lori’s been donating quilts to area hospitals now for 15 years. She even started a non-profit called ‘Quilts for Angels.’
Every quilt includes a sewn-on tag that reads, ‘In memory of Jennifer Dultmeier.’
“So it’s one thing, one small gesture, one small thing I can do to make it easier on someone else,” Lori said.
Obviously Lori would give anything to have her daughter back. But she’s found a way to keep her daughter’s memory alive while also helping others. Turning a tragedy into something positive, “Yes, yes, and it’s hard to say that out loud, but yes, something good.”
Since starting 15 years ago, Lori has given away more than a thousand quilts. She supports this mainly by paying out of her own pocket and through donations.
You can keep up with Lori and ‘Quilts for Angels’ on Facebook by clicking HERE.
Or if you would like to help her by making a donation send it to:
Quilts for Angels
6834 SE Hwy 40
Tecumseh, KS 66542