In some respects, you could call Lee Rhodes an “accidental” businesswoman. In 1998, physicians at UW Medical Center discovered that the pain in the new mother’s side wasn’t a pulled muscle. It was lung cancer. So began her battle with a cancer that recurred three times.
Rhodes spent many days receiving chemotherapy at UW Medical Center. While there she got to know others who were receiving treatment for various types of cancers. Some were not as lucky as she was. Because they had no money for transportation, they sometimes put off their chemotherapy. Rhodes was touched by their stories.
One night her husband brought her a beautiful hand-blown vessel that he had made in his glass blowing class. Rhodes dropped in a tea light and the shimmering beauty of the reflected light and color was inspirational and soothing; it helped her heal. And she had an idea.
In 2001, Rhodes hired Seattle artists to design and create hand-blown candle holders that she christened glassybaby. She also created the White Light Fund at UW Medical Center to help cancer patients with some of the day-to-day costs associated with cancer treatment that aren’t regularly covered by insurance. To date nearly $200,000 has been donated to the fund.
From 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Monday, Dec. 17, glassybaby, located at University Village, is holding a special sale for the UW. Rhodes will be there to meet and greet visitors. The White Light Fund will be the recipient of 10 percent of all sales that day. With more than 70 artists working to create the tea light holders, glassybaby is now an international business with a special mission to help UW Medicine’s cancer patients.
“UW has a special place in the glassybaby story,” Rhodes said. “We have a great gratitude to the UW Medical Center.”
Watch the UWTV 360 segment on Rhodes and her work with glassybaby and cancer philanthropy.