13-year-old girl who lost mom to colon cancer raises money for research with handmade bracelets

ByStephanie Wade WLS logo
Tuesday, December 5, 2023
Girl who lost mom to cancer makes bracelets to raise research funds
Northfield, IL girl Grace Bowyer lost her mom to colon cancer, and is raising money for research with handmade bracelets.

NORTHFIELD, Ill. (WLS) -- With her fingers hard at work, this is where you can often find 13-year-old Grace Bowyer.

She has her head in her thread as she stitches away, creating handmade bracelets.

"I think I've made around 300 bracelets," Grace said. "There's so many designs and a lot of creativity that can go into it."

At 7 years old, Grace lost her mother, Kathryn, to colon cancer after a late-stage diagnosis.

"There's lot of stuff I could do with her now that I can't," Grace said.

"It was extremely challenging, still is having an impact on the family. She was asymptomatic until she wasn't, and died nine weeks later," Andy Bowyer, Grace's father.

Through her grief, Grace posted on Instagram, selling her bracelets she coined "Gracelets" for colon cancer research in her mother's name.

"I don't want other people to have to go through that loss, because it's a lot of grief," Grace said.

Northwestern Memorial Hospital was so moved by this that they established the Kathryn Bowyer Research Foundation in her mother's memory. It's since raised more than $32,000.

"I think she'd be very proud of Grace for helping others, or for at least bringing awareness to the fact that we all need to help others," Andy said.

What's more, Grace also went on to inspire a global healthcare tech company to develop a medical device tool for colon cancer detection.

"Grace had the opportunity to amplify this message and this importance of early detection and early treatment, so that no one has to go through what she went through and her family went through," said Kevin Berliner with Strategic Accounts for Medtronic. "Grace's story about what she experienced has helped influence the technology that we bring to market, and one of those technologies being artificial intelligence for colorectal cancer detection."

"Just the bracelets made that much of an impact on even the equipment. I didn't think it would raise that much money to actually help," Grace said.

It is now a far-reaching movement that began with a simple stitch.

"It's just this huge thing that she started, and I don't think she had any idea, and nor did I, that it would become as impactful as it has become," Andy said.

Grace takes bracelet orders on her Instagram account: @bracelets_by_cbg