In April 2007, 15-year-old Katie Kalmerton was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. But life didn’t stop for the vibrant teenager. While undergoing treatment at American Family Children’s Hospital in Madison, Wis., Katie took a class in beading and became captivated by the craft. Katie decided to make bracelets for other kids with cancer, telling her mother, “I just want to give other children a reason to smile.”
But she needed money to purchase the beads. At the suggestion of a nurse, she started making beaded cords for identification badges. In between chemotherapy sessions, she ran a brisk business selling her stylish lanyards to hospital staff. Carefully keeping records, Katie used her profits to buy beads for the children’s bracelets.
On April 9, 2008, Katie succumbed to cancer. Katie’s mother and sister are continuing her project, called “Beads of Hope,” and spreading it to other states.
“Katie didn’t think, ‘Oh I’m sick, poor me,’” says Katie’s sister Becca. “She thought, ‘What can I do with my time? What can I give to other people?’”
“Her vision was to support other children just like herself and offer encouragement and hope.”