Close up of tree showing Beads of Courage and Donut Dash beads.

Beads on a Christmas tree honor a baby’s hospital journey


The Christmas tree in 7-month-old Myheir’s hospital room is like no other.

Close up of tree showing Beads of Courage and Donut Dash beads.
The Beads of Courage and Donut Dash beads were the first beads that baby Myheir received.

Upon the boughs are more than two dozen colorful strands of beads, each telling an important story in Myheir’s medical journey and honoring his courage.

“Each bead symbolizes a hospital admission, a new medicine, a dressing change or a needle poke. His strands include clinic visits and overnight hospital stays, as well as nutrition changes,” said Myheir’s mother Nickei Foltz.  

She received her son’s first bead on a day she was feeling down about his hospitalization. It was given to her by Brielle Kurth, a child life specialist at UC Davis Children’s Hospital.

Child life specialists offer beads to children with a chronic illness, as well as pediatric hematology-oncology, cardiac and NICU patients. The beads come from a national organization called Beads of Courage®, which supports the psychosocial and emotional needs of hospitalized children.

Nickei Foltz
The beads are something that he will always have to show what he has been through and his bravery and his strength.”Nickei Foltz

“The Beads of Courage® program allows families to track milestones throughout their hospitalization,” said Kurth, who also gave Foltz a journal to detail her son’s medical experiences. “It can give kids a feeling of ownership over their accomplishments and it’s also a great way to educate siblings about what the patient is going through.”

Beads of Courage tree
Baby Myheir’s first Christmas tree

In Foltz’s case, the strands show the passage of time – bead by bead – and an opportunity to be reminded of, and reflect on, the courage displayed while coping in the hospital. Myheir has been at UC Davis Children’s Hospital since he was transferred from Redding at two months old with an atrioventricular canal defect in his heart.

“The beads are something that he will always have to show what he has been through and his bravery and his strength,” Foltz said.

This program is made possible through donations from Donut Dash, the nonprofit organization that has funded the Beads of Courage® program at UC Davis Children’s Hospital.

The Christmas trees were donated to pediatric hospital rooms by the Anna French family.

About Beads of Courage

UC Davis Children’s Hospital is proud to provide the BEADS OF COURAGE® Hematology-Oncology Program, Cardiac Program, NICU Program and Chronic Program. The Program is a program of Beads of Courage, Inc. dba Center for Arts in Nursing, a 501©(3) organization, whose mission is to provide innovative Arts-in-Medicine programs for children coping with serious illness, their families, and the clinicians who care for them. BEADS OF COURAGE® is a federally registered trademark of Beads of Courage, Inc., and is used under license. For more information on BEADS OF COURAGE, visit

About Donut Dash

Every March, the Donut Dash is held in Land Park with a stop at Marie’s Donuts. Proceeds from the Donut Dash are used to benefit hospitalized children via the Child Life Programs. Donut Dash is a 501(c)(3) that is committed to funding programs, activities, and “fun stuff” that children use on a daily basis during hospitalization and procedures. For more information or to register for the 2024 event, visit