Beads of Courage, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization transforming the treatment process for children and teens coping with serious illness through innovative Arts-in-Medicine programs. DONATE TODAY.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Guest Blog Post - Bead Mom Juls Baumkirchner


Meet Beauden! This sweet three-year-old boy from Lake Havasu City, Arizona thought he was going on a family camping trip in San Diego. He fell off his little Stryder bike and scraped his knee the first night there. The next day he had a fever and wasn’t really talking to us. That night, he’d hoist himself with his upper body to move positions when sleeping. The day after that, which was the second day of vacation, he had a high fever, wouldn’t walk, his breathing was rapid, and his knee and lip were swelling. 

We took him to the ER and he ended up in the PICU at Rady Children’s Hospital. His stay there was two months before moving into another unit for another two weeks. In order to be at Beauden's bedside and with COVID regulations, his dad and I had to be separated from our two daughters by another state for that entire time with the exception of a couple of visits. 

Beauden was diagnosed with MSSA, a staph infection. It took over his little body, causing sepsis/toxic shock syndrome. Beauden had both legs amputated, as well as a couple of fingers. This sweet boy has had 19 surgeries, dressing changes that equal an hour or so of pure screaming - that started as daily to just about every other day or three days at most since November - and still going. He now has some sort of PT/OT therapy four times a week. 

Through all of this, he radiates sunshine. He’s a kid who just wants to be a kid. Our child life specialist at Rady Children’s introduced us to Beads of Courage early on. Each bead represents a night at the hospital, a surgery, a prick/poke, blood transfusions and so much more. Beauden has 343 beads and that doesn’t include his four nights at Phoenix Children’s Hospital as well as some other beads not accounted for at the time. 

These beads are colorful, encouraging, brave memories of the darkest of days for Beauden, as well as us as a family. They are small glimmers of hope and accomplishment each time we receive a handful, which tell Beauden's medical story. 

They might be just beads to others, but these artistic treasures will be cherished by Beauden and his whole family for our lifetime.

- Juls Baumkirchner (Beauden's mom)

Beauden's Beads of Courage

  • Dialysis-19
  • Central line/Picc line-4
  • Dressing change/central line/surgery site-6
  • Echocardiogram-3
  • Emergency-1
  • Surgery-19
  • Isolation precaution/fever/neutropenia-5
  • Overnight stay in hospital-75
  • IV poke/blood draw-1
  • Wound care-everyday since October 7, still going
  • Respiratory support/ventilator/anesthesia- 47
  • CT/MRI/X-ray/-27
  • Speech/OT/PT-25 but missing tons more
  • Transfusions-11
  • NG/NJ/Drain/catheter -10
  • Act of Courage- 2 (one for amputations, 1 for first dressing change without ketamine)
  • Admission to intensive care unit-1
  • Mobility challenges- 17 

Friday, January 1, 2021

Guest Blog Post - Beads of Courage Member Emily Rayne, age 16

My name is Emily and I am a type 1 diabetic and part of the Beads of Courage program. I will never forget when my world was flipped upside down six years ago. I remember being 10 years old and was told my life would never be the same. When I walked into Children's Hospital, I had no idea what to expect; but thanks to the amazing staff there, they told me about Beads of Courage. 

As soon as I got my first bead I fell in love with the program. The Beads of Courage program helps me stay on top of my diabetes. It helps me on the hard days because when I don't want to do something, I say to myself I will get a bead for it. I have 6 full strands of beads that range from getting my blood drawn to surgeries.

I am so thankful to be part of this amazing program. Being part of Beads of Courage makes me feel like part of a huge family. It connects me with a ton of other kids like me battling chronic conditions. There aren't a lot of good things that are associated with diabetes, but the Beads of Courage program is one of them!

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A note from Beads of Courage: When you donate to our year-end fundraising appeal, you help make every day brighter for children and teens coping with serious illness. These are never just little beads. Thank you for making a difference for these courageous kids today! 

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Guest Blog Post - Jodi Nolte, PMP, Strategic Philanthropy Consultant at Northwestern Mutual

Why Gold Origami Cranes?

The legend of the origami crane is that if you fold 1,000 cranes, your wish will come true. At Northwestern Mutual, our wish is for an end to childhood cancer. Until that time comes, however, we are committed to supporting kids and their families while they undergo treatment. That is why we are proud supporters of Beads of Courage, and each year, we string 1,000 origami crane strings. 

"When I make the crane strings, I have a chance to use my creativity while also sending a wish for love, strength, and healing to a child that is going through treatment," says Denise Uttke, Northwestern Mutual employee. "I enjoy making the crane strings and it allows me to honor Robert and hope for better outcomes for other children who have their own cancer battles." 

Since 2016, Northwestern Mutual employees have strung the origami crane strings in the month of September to honor Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Gold is the color for childhood cancer, which is another reason why the gold cranes are significant. It is our hope these colorful strings kids can hang from their IV poles, windows, or above their beds will remind them someone is thinking about them, sending them love, hope, and healing. 

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A note from Beads of Courage: Northwestern Mutual has been a strategic partner of Beads of Courage since 2017 as part of their Childhood Cancer Program, which focuses on helping children and families affected by childhood cancer. Their generous and ongoing support is in keeping with Northwestern Mutual Foundation's mission to improve the lives of children and families in need through financial support, volunteerism and collaboration with community partners.

The gold origami crane bead, along with our entire origami crane bead collection, is available on our website.  

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Guest Blog Post - Beads of Courage Member Alexis Douglas

I started my journey with Beads of Courage at three years old, although my time at the hospital was way before that. I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Neuroblastoma at two months old. I had a 10% chance of survival. In order to save me, they had to take out my kidney and give me very hardcore chemotherapy and radiation. That has affected a lot of my life after cancer. 

As I reflect on my time as a cancer survivor, and my time with Beads of Courage, I flash back to all the memories of wearing them. Even after treatment, I still wear them to so many events and I am so proud to be wearing them. I always felt guilty for not remembering my cancer treatment. Why should people be calling me a miracle if I do not remember fighting? But, as I looked at the beads, time and time again, I felt like a warrior. I still deal with the side effects and scars, and my Beads of Courage help me realize that I am still a fighter and I deserve the title of cancer survivor. 

Each bead tells a story. That is why they mean so much to me. Each bead has a different meaning and a different level of importance. Whether it is a simple blood draw or kidney surgery, Beads of Courage covers all of it. Each one means so much to me because of which doctor gave it to me, what situation I was in, and how I earned it.

As I see other survivors wear their beads, I feel a connection to them. Beads of Courage helps me understand what they had to go through and fight against to be here today. It helps me feel bonded to them and respect their strength. Beads of Courage has made such a positive impact in my life, and I am so grateful to have my beads as a reminder of all I fought against.

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Note from BOC: As a nonprofit organization, we rely on the generosity of donors who believe in the power of beads to provide hope and healing for children and teens like Alexis. Thank you for making a difference in the lives of courageous kids coping with cancer and other serious illnesses!

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Carry a Bead Guest Blog Post - Paulette McGrew, Adventurer

Last year I attended the September Champ 5k Run/Walk with one of my favorite tiny humans on this planet, Ezrah, and her family. Ezrah was diagnosed with leukemia last year at the age of 2 and has been the bravest little warrior since. Our welcome pack came with some Beads of Courage for us to wear during our walk, and after the 5k we were meant to turn them back in and write a note for the fighter who would be receiving them. Well, I got so caught up in the event and everything going on that I forgot to make my way to the booth to return one of my beads and as a result, they’ve been with me ever since.

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 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!


Sunday, September 20, 2020

Cocktails for Courage - Thank you, Heritage Distilling!

On World Beads of Courage Day, September 15, we had great fun hosting a virtual Cocktails for Courage event, presented by Heritage Distilling Company and benefiting Beads of Courage. It was a wonderful hour with Justin Stiefel, CEO and co-founder of Heritage, and BOC supporters from coast to coast raising a toast to our mission.

Cocktails for Courage events began in 2019 and were held in person, but COVID-19 prompted the change to a virtual format this year. Prior to the event, guests were mailed a package full of goodies from Heritage Distilling and Beads of Courage.

Throughout the hour, Justin told guests about the spirits they received in their packages, with time allotted to taste each one. Heritage Distilling is one of the top premier craft distilleries in the United States, making a variety of whiskeys, vodkas, gins, aquavit and rums from as many local ingredients as possible.

Guests were also treated to virtual entertainment provided by Jolie & Sonny, a high-energy country music duo featuring two successful Texas country artists, Jolie Holliday and Sonny Burgess, who are big supporters of Beads of Courage!

Beads of Courage founder and executive director Jean Gribbon shared information on the mission of Beads of Courage, World Beads of Courage Day, and the BOC Carry a Bead program. Other activities included an online raffle and some fun surprises!

The September 15th Cocktails for Courage event was by invitation only, but don't worry! Heritage Distilling has got you covered with a special offer. Just visit their website and use the promo code BEADSOFCOURAGE for a 15% discount on spirits! But don't wait! The promo code expires on October 15, 2020.
Want to be notified of the next Cocktails for Courage? Click here to fill out an Interest Form so we can keep you posted about the next event. You must be 21 years or older to participate. Many thanks to everyone who supported World Beads of Courage Day and made Cocktails for Courage a big success. Cheers!

Summer of ART Guest Blog Post - Karen Carlson, Bead Artist

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

1,000 Cranes Glass on Instagram

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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.