MURFREESBORO,Tenn. - He loves sports, video games, and riding four-wheelers, but an eleven-year-old from Rutherford County knows his very favorite hobby is one that might surprise you. His motivation behind it might bring you to tears.
"Sometimes when you have chemo, you'll lose your hair," said Preston Allen. "And it was cold outside, so I started sewing hats to warm my head up, and then I had the idea to send them to other kids."
Preston's skill on the sewing machine, at first, surprised even his mother.
"I took the pattern out of the package and traced it onto cardboard for him so that it wasn't so flimsy, and he went to town," said Tonya Allen.
Preston soon started sewing so fast, his mom couldn't keep enough fabric stocked in their house.
During a trip to Hancock Fabrics in Murfreesboro, they met store manager Polly Blair. It's an introduction Polly says she'll never forget.
'You know, here's this little boy, and he's got a beanie on his head, and you can tell he's bald," she recalls.
After speaking to Preston for just a few minutes, Polly felt compelled to help.
"My employees just started kinda donating fleece to him," she said. "When it would go on sale, we'd buy it up, put it in a cart, hold it until he got here, and when he came in, we'd give it to him."
By that time, Preston was making regular deliveries to cancer patients at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital. That's when he decided his project needed a name.
"He said well what's something we can call the hats?" said Polly. "And we said, well beanies! So Beanies For Baldies was born."
Beanies For Baldies continues to grow, and each month, Preston makes his deliveries to Vanderbilt.
"Oh, it's just amazing! It gives me chill bumps all over that somebody at 11-years-old has already been through this and wants to give back," said Betsy Phelps, whose four-year-old daughter has leukemia, and received one of Preston's hats.
Preston's motivation to keep sewing is ultimately, his father. The two battled cancer together for years, until Preston's dad passed away in 2010.
"They were very, very close," said his mother. "About six months after Preston was diagnosed, my husband was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer. They gave him six months to live, and he made it just short of eight years. We lost him in April of 2010."
Tonya Allen says there's no doubt, Preston's father is smiling down on him.
"He would be so incredibly proud of him," she said.
Preston is now making hats for cancer patients not just at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital. He also mails them to hospitals in Dallas, Denver, Cincinnati, San Antonio, and Seattle. In addition, he makes regular trips to St Jude's in Memphis.
"I like to see the smiles on their faces," Preston said, of the kids who receive his hats.