Leslie and her sister TaraLynn
Hi, my name is Leslie Antinarella and I am here to tell you about my passion ...
In the summer of 2007, I decided that I was going to make my own jewelry. Good friends of mine had been making jewelry for years; their specialty is polymer clay and blown glass beading. I was inspired by their breathtaking creations and wanted to start making my own jewelry. Every free moment I had I would study Fire Mountain Gems and Beads' product catalog, memorizing bead sizes, names, styles and which finding would go here or there. I realized that Fire Mountain Gems met all my needs. Soon, every nook in my house was filled with BEADS, BEADS, BEADS. Every time a shipment of beads would arrive, I would immediately open it. I felt like I had discovered a lost treasure; my eyes would be as big as saucers and I would run the beads through my hands. Designs would just float in my head. I just loved all the bright colors!
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In October 2007, my younger sister, TaraLynn Powers, was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer. Her world had changed and so did mine. My desire to start making jewelry had been put on hold. Learning about TaraLynn's diagnosis and treatment became the main focus of our lives. When TaraLynn learned of her prognosis, I called a friend to brainstorm a project to help lift my sister's spirits. She told me of some fundraisers she had done in the past involving bracelets. A lightbulb turned on, and the ''Powers'' Circle of Hope Bracelet was created.
The ''Powers'' Circle of Hope bracelet is named after TaraLynn. The bracelets are to honor her and represent cancer awareness, and most of all HOPE. The project raises money for TaraLynn and her family to take family vacations, creating unforgettable memories.
Since I know every Fire Mountain Gems and Beads' catalog page number by heart, I was able to quickly choose the beads I liked. Judy, from Fire Mountain Gems' customer service, placed my order and that was just the beginning. Not long after we began making the bracelets for TaraLynn, my cousin Marlee had the opportunity to speak with Chris, co-owner of Fire Mountain Gems and Beads. Chris was very caring and compassionate about TaraLynn's condition as well as our project. Marlee was very touched by her conversation with Chris--she left an imprint on Marlee's heart. I think you guys have customers for life.
We make the bracelets with nylon-coated wire, 8mm Czech fire-polished glass beads and 4mm silver-plated spacers. Simple, yet elegant! Each Czech fire-polished glass bead represents a different type of cancer. The campaign was started, ''Wear it or share it ... We all have a story.''
Enclosed in the packaging with each bracelet is a color-coded chart specifying which bead represents which cancer. The bracelets have touched the lives of many across the United States. Immediately the bracelets became a hit, and I realized I could not keep up with the demand. That's when we, as a family, came together to bead, and we continue to do so. Just like it takes more than one bead to make the ''Powers'' Circle of Hope Bracelet, it takes more than one person to make this project such a success. The majority of bracelets are sold by word of mouth; however, we're starting to branch out to local fairs.
Because of these bracelets, we've accomplished many things for TaraLynn and her family. They've been able to take family trips to Disney World, Myrtle Beach and Ft. Lauderdale--creating memories that her husband and children will have always. I'm absolutely sure we will accomplish a lot more!
The bracelets have been a blessing to TaraLynn and her family. It gives them HOPE and happiness. In addition, this project has brought my creative flair back to life and I FINALLY picked up all those beads that I purchased in early 2007. Marlee and I have literally become addicted to beads. We even started ventures of our own!
TaraLynn inspires us ... we will continue to make the ''Powers'' Circle of Hope Bracelets so they can continue to make memories as a family. When we see TaraLynn smile, we smile. And to us, that is worth more than the weight of gold.
We have a website, www.RaeLinCreations.com, that shares TaraLynn's story and the purpose of this bracelet. We'd also like to hear how the ''Powers'' Circle of Hope bracelets have touched the lives of others. ''Wear it or share it ... We all have a story.''
A circle is never ending ... the ''Powers'' Circle of Hope is never ending!
Letter to Chris Freedman, co-owner of Fire Mountain Gems and Beads
Posted with permission from Leslie Antinarella and Marlee Colon
Back in January, you helped my cousin Marlee Colon by giving her a price break on our supplies. Because my sister, TaraLynn Powers, was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer at the age of 28, we created a cancer awareness bracelet to help raise funds for her and her family to travel. We are happy to say they have been to Disney, Myrtle Beach and this week, she and her husband are going to Fort Lauderdale. It is all because of these bracelets. We wanted you to have one. Because everyone liked the bracelets, we started creating earrings, necklaces and lanyards, too! Although my sister's journey is a very difficult one, these trips are creating many wonderful memories with her family. Fire Mountain Gems is a huge reason for this success. My cousin was supposed to update you, but we have been so busy beading, we can barely breathe!!
If you ever want to follow my sister's story, you can go online (site for terminal patients):
When asked site to visit, type taralynnpowers (all one word).
Thank you again for your kindness.
Update in October 2008:
I want to thank you again for having our article online, and I wanted to share another accomplishment we have made with these bracelets. TaraLynn now has keys to her own home! It's a super fixer-upper, but with the bracelet money we can! A place to make memories with her husband and children--we will be making these bracelets for a long time! Thanks so much again to Chris and Fire Mountain Gems!
--Leslie Antinarella and Marlee Colon