Krista Robertson looks down at the long strand of beads, remembering. The colorful beads tell a story — her son Colten's story — one of blood draws and chest tubes, surgeries and medications, holidays spent in a hospital bed. She touches a silver and blue butterfly bead, which she received after her beautiful boy passed away just three days before his third birthday. "I do love the butterfly," Krista says. "As much as I wish he was here with me, I know he's free."
Christy Collins first saw the beads — distributed through a program called Beads of Courage— at Colten's funeral. Collins, a cardiology nurse at Mayo Clinic, had cared for the little boy while he waited for a heart transplant. "Colten had gotten beads at another hospital, and his mom asked about him getting beads at Mayo," Collins tells us. At the time, Mayo didn't have a Beads of Courage program for hospitalized patients. After attending Colten's funeral, Collins was determined to start one. "I realized how much the beads meant to patients and their families," she says. "I felt it was an important way to honor our patients."
This story originally appeared on the In the Loop blog.