- Make a one-time donation: Friends of Beads of Courage
- Make a recurring monthly donation: Courage Keepers
When I go on hikes and adventures, these beads almost always come with me. Ten months later the beads have done countless runs and hikes in the McDowell, Superstition, South, and Phoenix Mountains. They’ve gone adventuring with me in canyons, cliff jumping, snowboarding, swimming, camping, walking, and most recently, backpacking.
Though I don’t have very many pictures with the beads, I did make sure to capture them with me on my most recent backpacking trip. This was my first backpacking trip where I didn’t have someone to guide me; instead, I was the one guiding my friend on her first backpacking experience. There was a lot of uncertainty, a little bit of fear that something might go wrong, and slight pressure to make sure that I could create the best possible experience for her. The backpacking trip turned out to be incredibly successful despite making it out with almost 200 ant bites on my body. You win some you lose some, right?
At first, it was never my intention to take the beads almost everywhere I went, but as time went on I kept adventuring and the beads just became a part of what I did. When I’m out running, they’ve been the greatest motivator to keep going, because suddenly that run isn’t about you. It’s for someone who’s out there fighting day and night. If they can fight their fight, you can run that extra mile. You can hike that mountain, or jump off that cliff. They can do hard things and so can you.
I understand that so many of our fighters aren’t able to go outside and have the experiences that I’m so lucky to have. My hope is that I can take these beads with me and fill them with amazing energy, adventure, and joy. When things get hard I hope these beads serve as a reminder to the children who receive them that they aren’t in this fight alone.
I know Ezrah and all the brave fighters out there are doing their very best, and I’m so incredibly proud of them. Though they may not know it, they always inspire me and push me to do better and try new things.
I’m planning on returning these specific beads at this year’s September Champ, but my adventures with Beads of Courage don’t end there. I’m going to keep carrying more with me and hope they bring joy and strength to the kiddos who receive them.
Please visit www.beadsofcourage.org to make a donation or sign up and join me in carrying a bead! - Paulette McGrew, adventurer
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A note from Beads of Courage: We are so grateful to Paulette and every member of Team Beads of Courage who makes the commitment to Carry a Bead and encourage a child coping with serious illness. Through the simple act of carrying beads, you let a child in the hospital know they are never alone in their fight for life.
You can join our team today! You don't have to run a marathon or climb a mountain to participate. Make any activity matter more when you carry beads with you. Get started now with our Be a Helper Bundle, which offers two Carry a Bead kits for the price of one! As an extra bonus, we will add your location to our global Helpers Map!
I have always loved glass. It's just a magical material. Brittle or malleable, clear or colorful, it is described as a "supercooled liquid," neither solid nor liquid, but having properties of both. I started in stained glass in the '90's and got into lampwork bead making around 2000.
I first heard about Beads of Courage about a dozen years ago. Soda Lime Times, a wonderful lampworking tutorial magazine, did a whole issue on beads for donation. Beads for the program have to meet certain criteria - no sharp edges, no fragile easily broken bits, no metallic surface decorations that might lay against sensitive skin. There were so many adorable designs! I’ve donated a few times since then, but sadly my creative side has been a bit absent in this stressful year.Beads of Courage is such an amazing concept. It supports kids and teens during their struggle, marks milestones and gives them a little something to make them smile. When the ISGB (International Society of Glass Beadmakers) posted that their September creativity challenge was partnered with Beads of Courage and that the theme was "Stronger Together." boxing gloves instantly popped into my head. They are the perfect shape, and a great symbol for kids who are, quite literally, fighting for their lives.
Like most ideas, it took a couple of tries to get a prototype I was happy with. The first test batch came out okay, but unfortunately there was a kiln error and they all cooled too quickly and cracked. The second batch turned out better, but I had been trying to re-create contrasting edging on the cuff and just wasn’t thrilled with the result. For the third batch, I just let the colors speak for themselves and couldn’t be happier with how they turned out.
This year has been topsy-turvy for sure, and to be dealing with illness on top of the craziness has got to be an incredible challenge for these kids and their families. When I’m not making things, I’m a nurse in surgery. I knew before I went into nursing that working with kids was not for me, and I’m so grateful that there are nurses, doctors and caregivers that rise up to that call. I’m sure the medical teams are just as appreciative of the Beads of Courage program as the kids. I feel quite fortunate to be able to use my creative side to maybe brighten someone’s day.
Thank you ISGB and Beads of Courage for reminding me that helping others is the best way to stay sane, and for giving me the opportunity to share my love of glass with others. The first dozen beads have been sent off, but I’m having such fun making them that there are another 30 waiting to be cleaned to follow them, and I’m looking forward to making many more.
- Karen Carlson, Beads of Courage supporting bead artist
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Note from BOC: From June through September, we are shining a spotlight on four amazing communities of volunteer artists and crafters who support our mission year-round with their beautiful donated goods. The handcrafted beads, bags and bowls they donate strengthen our arts-in-medicine mission and bring beauty to the bedside of kids coping with serious illness. The beads shown in this post were donated to Beads of Courage and will be distributed to our member hospitals and programs as Act of Courage beads.
YOU can help with a monetary gift to the Summer of ART fundraising campaign. Be a rock star! Donate $50 or more and receive this awesome TIE DYE T-shirt as our exclusive thank-you gift just for Summer of ART supporters! PEACE. LOVE. ART.
When Beads of Courage asked me to write about why I like polymer clay, my first thought was, "It’s August. In Las Vegas. In the desert. It’s 113 degrees outside!" The idea of turning on a blow torch in the garage is not that appealing.
Then I remembered my roots. Before there were lampwork glass beads, there was polymer clay. I used to sell kaleidoscope canes on eBay back in 2001. I remember the smooth, cool texture of clay. No anxieties or worries about burning my fingers or cutting my hands. There is no thermal shock with polymer clay. No issues with chunks of hot lava popping off a rod of glass and dropping down my shirt. Polymer clay is a very calming material. There are tons of colors that can be easily swirled or stacked into an infinite number of designs. You literally can’t mess up. That’s a very calming feeling. I get so relaxed when working with clay. Not a care in the world.
Then there is the geek in me who revels in the engineering marvels of kaleidoscope canes. I get a weird, science thrill when I cut open a cane and put the sides together and everything matches up perfectly. The perfect geometry, the perfect fractal, the perfect design. Every little line matches up to every other line. All the parts in their place. As nature intended.
As my canes come to life, I think of the kids. I get so much joy by donating my beads. Each bead represents a smile, a giggle, a look of astonishment. "Mom, how did they do that? Are those designs painted on that bead?!" And, for a moment, that child no longer has an IV in their arm or a doctor at their bedside. They are just a plain ol’ kid getting excited about a little blob of clay with a design on it. That makes me happy.
I owe a debt of gratitude to all the little warriors out there fighting the fight. Thank you for letting me explore the art of polymer clay all over again. It's been 19 years since I worked with clay and I forgot how fun it was. Thank you for making me smile when I cut into a cane and see the wonderful designs. I hope you all will stare at the kaleidoscope designs with happiness, joy and wonderment.
- Maria Schoenenberger, Beads of Courage supporting bead artist
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Note from BOC: From June through September, we are shining a spotlight on four amazing communities of volunteer artists and crafters who support our mission year-round with their beautiful donated goods. The handcrafted beads, bags and bowls they donate strengthen our arts-in-medicine mission and bring beauty to the bedside of kids coping with serious illness.YOU can help with a monetary gift to the Summer of ART fundraising campaign. Be a rock star! Donate $50 or more and receive this awesome TIE DYE T-shirt as our exclusive thank-you gift just for Summer of ART supporters! PEACE. LOVE. ART.