Beads of Courage is a public charity that focuses on helping children with cancer and other serious illnesses through the use of colorful, unique beads. These beads help to “record, tell, and own their personal stories of courage throughout their treatment journey.”

Each colorful bead signifies different programs and treatments received by the child. Red is given for each blood transfusion, white is given for each dose of chemotherapy, etc. Children can accrue hundreds of beads during treatment.

“We have been working diligently to transform the treatment experience for children coping with chronic life-threatening illness through our arts-in-medicine programs,” said Jean Gribbon, executive director and founder of Beads of Courage.

Gribbon, a pediatric oncology nurse, started Beads of Courage while she was working on her PhD in Nursing at U of A. With help from friends and family, Gribbon piloted the program at Phoenix Children’s Hospital in 2003. Now, the program is active in more than 240 hospitals throughout the United States and eight other countries.

Beads of Courage serves about 60,000 children, from birth to age 18, and offers additional programs to support families and caregivers. Beads of Courage also works with various partners and collaborators to further its mission of improving kids’ quality of life.

“I am so grateful to be a part of this amazing program. Beads of Courage brought my journey to life. It reminds me that there is a light at the end of every tunnel – and a bead,” said Katie C., a child in the program. “The fight against cancer can be filled with moments of fear and pain. Today, I am able to view these bumps as moments of triumph rather than struggle. My beads remind me that this battle is never fought alone.” 

Valerie Thompson is a celebrity sponsor for Beads of Courage. She signed up to support the program because she feels that helping children with serious illnesses is both rewarding and needed. Thompson’s high-speed motorcycle racing career gives her a platform to promote Beads of Courage and maximize awareness of the program’s cause. 

“These kids suffer a wide-range of serious maladies so they need all the help and emotional support we can provide,” Thompson said.

Thompson wears a set of beads every time she attempts to achieve a new land speed record and during other significant events in her life. She helps build awareness for the program in a variety of ways, including displays at her team fundraisers and promotions on her social media. 

“To know I’m bringing a smile to a child who really needs one makes me feel I’ve done something worthwhile. The program is very easy to support, and I know it makes a positive difference in the lives of thousands of sick and suffering children,” Thompson said.

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