The Beads of Courage Artist Challenge is always a special day.  Firing up the torch, I found myself surrounded by close friends and talented artists giving so freely of their time and skills.  I deeply admire their selfless gift of service.  Having a son born with a congenital heart defect, Beads of Courage is a cause near and dear to my heart on so many levels.

Courageous children, who have requested special beads, gather around the studio tables as the glass enters the flame.  Skilled artisans steady their hands as they begin to bring Dream Beads to life.  The molten glass starts to flow and a menagerie of one-of-a-kind beads fill the hot kilns.  Happy ladybugs, alien-like monsters, smiling minions, superheroes, monkeys, and waddling ducks form a colorful parade of silliness.  Sounds of laughter echo in the bustling studio as whimsical designs take shape.  These beads will become unique Act of Courage beads, given to children on tough treatment days or to acknowledge milestones. 

Sheer amazement is visible in the children’s inquisitive eyes as they watch the dance of molten glass.  Creativity floods their eager minds as beads take shape.  In this moment, the children forget about their serious illnesses and the daily struggles.  Their thoughts drift away to the endless possibilities of glass.  Parents’ hearts are filled with happiness as they see their child’s wonder.  On this day, I have watched parents hold back tears, while children smile with joy.  This is the reason why so many love the National Bead Challenge Day.  The delightful scene is repeated in glass studios around the world.  Artists as a collective inspire hope, one bead at a time. 
The children are full of questions.  Many are concerned for the artist’s safety and ask, “Have you ever burnt yourself?”  In the child’s eyes, the artists are brave souls who tame fire and molten glass.  In our eyes, the children are the brave ones.  Each bead on their elaborate necklace stands as significant evidence of their courageous spirit, a record of their story.  They are gallant heroes in every sense of the word. 

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