City Clerk Ann Nixon started making necklaces five years ago to help people cope with their fight against cancer.
During a normal week, Ann Nixon can usually be found in an office at Oldsmar City Hall, working with politicians and proclamations as part of her job as City Clerk.
But in the evenings and on weekends, Nixon is often making posters, measuring and tying lengths of string and participating in Relay For Life events in her role as the driving force behind Hope You Can Hold.
Nixon began building necklaces for Relay participants roughly five years ago as a way to help inspire those involved in the fight against cancer.
“In 2011, I came to Relay For Life, walking in circles, and I said to myself, ‘What does this do?’” Nixon said during the 2015 Safety Harbor/Oldsmar RFL event at Canal Park on Saturday, April 11.
“My daughter saw someone making these bead things, where you get one bead for every lap you complete, and my coworker had just been diagnosed, so I decided to make a necklace for him.”
That decision quickly turned into a long-term passion project for Nixon.
“The experience was very fulfilling,” she said. “It a spiritual experience that brings meaning back to Relay. I knew it was what I wanted to do.”
The concept behind Hope You Can Hold is simple: for each relay lap a person completes, they get a bead to put on their necklace. Each bead represents one-quarter of a mile, and they come in multiple colors for those who like to switch things up every mile or more.
At the end of the event, or after multiple events, the donors are asked to give the necklace, along with personalized note explaining the meaning behind the gesture, to the person they are representing in their fight against cancer.
And one of the best parts of the whole endeavor is the fact that there is no cost to participate.
“We don’t charge for the necklaces. We’re doing this for people fighting cancer,” Nixon said. “Whoever contacts me about making one, we make a necklace for.”
“This is not a fundraiser, this is a meaning-raiser.”
The meaning was not lost on those who attended Oldsmar’s Relay event, as many people stopped at the Hope You Can Hold tent while they did their laps around the track.
“I think it’s pretty awesome, to be able to make these necklaces and then give them to cancer patients,” Palm Harbor’s Bonnie Faucher said. “It’s a phenomenal idea.”
“It really shows a commitment to the person who is doing it,” Amy Johnson of Trinity added. “It’s a different way to express your support.”
Nixon, who has been with the City for eight years, the last five as City Clerk, said she would love to see Hope You Can Hold expand to include other causes, like MS and ALS.
In fact, after having such success at this year’s Relay, Nixon has decided to ramp up her plans for expansion.
“We walked 254 miles on Saturday, which is like walking to Jacksonville,” she said. “The longest necklace is 232 beads, 58 miles long; it will go to a 15-year old girl recently diagnosed with leukemia and having a tough struggle.”
“In light of this, I’ve decided to hold my own event to increase awareness and make necklaces for cancer, MS, and ALS patients.”
Nixon said the Big Bad Bead Bash will be held at Canal Park on Friday, November 6, from 6:00 p.m. to midnight. She is looking for volunteers to help with what is quickly becoming a time-consuming side job.
“A lot of it is on me, but I have some key players,” she said. “But there’s a lot of work to do!”
Anyone interested in helping out should call 727-251-2536 or email Ann at HopeYouCanHold@yahoo.com.