Michele Milligan remembers February 17 very well. She left her quilting studio off LBJFreeway in Mesquite headed out to run some errands.
She was stopped in her tracks.
'The entrance to the highway was shut down, and I noticed all the motorcycle cops,' Milligan said. 'And when I crossed over Northwest Highway, they had the firetrucks stopped over there with flags, and people were just standing.'
The funeral procession for Dallas firefighter Scott Tanksley passed right in front of her.
'I literally pulled over into the parking lot of the Jack in the Box and cried. I don't know him; never met his family; but it touched me that all these people would show up to honor this man in that way.'
She was moved to do something. And days later, a friend offered an outlet.
'She had seen on Facebook about a man who wanted to make a quilt,' Milligan explained, 'so I messaged him and said I'd be willing to head it all up.'
And the pan has quickly taken off.
'It's off to a good start so far,' she said, holding up T-shirts and patches from fire and police departments across Texas and the nation.
'We have Indianapolis, Andover,' she said. 'I got one today from New Orleans.'
Milligan put the word out online, and hopes the message keeps spreading. She's collecting patches and tshirts from emergency responders everywhere.
She and volunteer quilters will piece them all together and present Tanksley's family with memorial quilts.
'These are things people have said: 'We appreciate you. We appreciate the sacrifice your husband made, every day in his life since he became a firefighter.'' Milligan said.
Tanksley died February 10. He was working at an accident scene on an icy bridge in southwest Dallas. A car slid into him, sending him tumbling off the overpass.
'Ultimately we'd like to make one quilt for the mom and three smaller quilts for the kids, if we have the resources,' Milligan said. 'For them, it's something tangible to hold on to.'
One of the favorite T-shirts she's received so far came from Mississippi State University, where Tanksley played college baseball.
'Firefighters and police officers sacrifice their lives every day. I never noticed before how many fallen firefighters there are until I got involved in this project,' Milligan said.
She will continue to accept T-shirts and patches by mail from first responders through June. Her address is:
Pieced Together Studio
c/o Michele Milligan
15330 LBJ Freeway, Suite 421
Mesquite, TX 75150