Making courage beads to honor sister's memory

Diana Rast makes beads that help children cope with long stays in the hospital.

Diana Rast can handle the heat.

“It’s 900 to 1,000 degrees,” she said, leaning over an open flame. “Even some of my friends who have seen me do it still don’t understand it.”

Rast’s friends may not understand her creative process but it’s working for the Tampa woman. She’s created more glass beads than she can count over the past decade, all for kids in hospitals.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Rast said while twisting a glass flower onto a little girl face bead. “I fell in love with it 10 years ago and I’ve been making beads ever since.”

Rast is a featured designer for the Beads of Courage organization, which makes beads for children stuck in hospitals and helps them muster the courage to keep fighting disease and illness.

Rast knows what it’s like to have a sick child in her family. Her sister, Lori Willigerod, died when she was just 2 years old from a heart condition. Rast was three at the time.

“It has kind of stuck with me through my life always thinking about what she would be like had she survived,” said Rast. “It just makes me happy to know that I’m giving a small bit of courage to a child that is suffering like my sister did.”

Rast has made beads for college football players at the Universities of Alabama and Tennessee. Players wear the beads on game day and then write a story to go along with their experience before the beads are delivered to kids in local hospitals.

It’s part of Beads of Courage’s Carry A Bead program.

For Rast, she’s in it for the smiles.

“Put the happiness in the bead and child I think will feel it,” she said.

Rast sells her beads as well with her business, Dizzy Bead


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