Jesse and Pat Wilkerson's dolls aid brittle bone disease research

Sales of homemade playthings help Osteogenesis Imperfecta Foundation

| December 2008

Jesse Wilkerson and dolls

GOOD CAUSE: Jesse Wilkerson, of Gardner, Kan., shows off two of the dolls he and his wife, Pat, create and sell.

– Courtesy of Santa Fe Trails Doll Shop

Sturdy and old-fashioned, the dolls that Jesse and Pat Wilkerson create are a source of great pride for the Gardner, Kan., couple.

Each of the handmade dolls the husband and wife make has a head of hair made with nearly two skeins of yarn. Each is packed so solidly with cotton that it can withstand the rigors of play, as well as a run through the washer and dryer. Each is individually signed upon completion.

Perhaps what makes these dolls most special, though, is that the sale of each one helps further research into a rare disease Jesse Wilkerson has lived with his whole life.


Brittle bones

Wilkerson, 76, was born with osteogenesis imperfecta – “OI,” for short. The genetic disorder causes bones to fracture easily, and Wilkerson estimates he’s suffered about 40 breaks during the course of his lifetime.

According to the Osteogenesis Imperfecta Foundation (, the disease affects an estimated 25,000 to 50,000 people in the United States.

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