When Annapolis artist Bobbie Burnett made her first stained glass angel in honor of a close friend, she thought it would be her last.
The year was 1982, and her friend Susie had leukemia. Susie, then 39, had three children under the age of 10, and was undergoing treatment at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
Bobbie created the angel as a Christmas gift for her friend and, soon after, found that others wanted angels, too. She ended up making several, and sold them to help pay for Susie’s medical expenses.
“I thought that would be it,” she recalls.
But it was only the beginning.
Susie passed away in 1983, but the angel Bobbie made for her inspired the Caring Collection. The collection is made up of stained glass angels that Bobbie sells to benefit Anne Arundel Medical Center’s (AAMC’s) Geaton and JoAnn DeCesaris Cancer Institute, and the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins.
The Caring Collection has raised more than $1.2 million in funds over the years, half of which has gone to AAMC.
Bobbie’s collection also includes one-of-a-kind stained glass windows, doors and sculptures.
For her incredible support of the cancer community, Bobbie recently received the DeCesaris Cancer Institute’s (DCI’s) Fire and Soul Award on National Cancer Survivors Day in June.
“Bobbie Burnett and the Caring Collection are, simply stated, angels in waiting ready to help cancer patients and their families treated at DCI,” says Catherine Copertino, DCI’s vice president of cancer services. “Hundreds of individuals have been touched with the funds raised by the Caring Collection.”
A former art teacher, Bobbie took a stained glass class after she and her husband bought a boat and sailed from Texas to Annapolis.
“That’s when I met Susie,” she says. “And it kind of all fell together.”
Bobbie and her team of volunteers have made 45,000 angels. She says she wanted to help support AAMC because it’s her local hospital, the one she would go to if she needed medical care.
Catherine says the sale of the angels has helped with the purchase of radiation and chemotherapy infusion technology, genetics counseling software, gowns for women undergoing mammograms, and technology to monitor prostate cancer.
“Most importantly, the beautiful stained glass angels and ornaments that adorn DCI remind us each and every day that someone cares about us,” Catherine says.
Bobbie says she doesn’t have a favorite angel in the collection.
“I love them all,” she says.
But right now, Bobbie is in the process of designing one final angel.
She’ll be 80 next year, and realizes she may not be able to make the angels forever. Still, she’s not ready to say whether it’s the end of the Caring Collection.
“Only the angels know the answer to that question,” she says.