I'm writing to share the story of Helene Lumia

I met Helene during a summer session at Penland in the summer of 2012. She was one of my three roommates and on a full scholarship to study glass with Beth Lipman and Leo Tecosky. A fun and bubbly girl, she made me laugh as each night she would come back to our room with a huge smile on her face and rattle on and on about everything she learned, how she couldn't wait to make this and try that. It was great to see a 20 year old SO excited about making.

Helene and I lost touch after leaving the dream world of Penland, as so many of us do. Through Facebook I saw glimpses of her here and there; continuing her studies, hanging with friends, always, it seemed, having fun no matter the activity. Remembering Helene and her energy, these glimpses always made me smile.

I recently learned that this past May Helene graduated from Alfred University and in June doctors found a cyst on her spinal cord. After various surgeries and treatments, Helene is now living life as a quadriplegic. 

At Penland I got to know Helene as one of the most dedicated and enthusiastic students in the session; one of the gals who made friends with everyone. It breaks my heart to see something like this happen to such a talented and kind person who was just at the beginning of her career.

Over the next few weeks and months Helene's family is working to bring Helene home to Buffalo, NY from Atlanta, GA where she was receiving treatment. They are also working to renovate their home to accommodate Helene's needs.  Friends close to the family have set up a fundraising site to help with the expenses of this transition.  Please take a moment to say a prayer or send Helene some good vibes, and if you can contribute to the fund I know it would greatly help Helene's family prepare for her new life. Helene deserves every miracle that can come her way.

You can read about Helene and support her fundraising campaign at at her Fundrazr site: 


Helene at Penland

Glass blowing is a team sport! (Helene in black)

Helene (in red) transferring a piece to the punty.

Helene (in white) with the Alfred Glass students.

Helene (in red to the left) learning a glass technique, notebook in hand :)

College graduate!

Some of Helene's artwork: Glass lamp with image transfer 

Image on glass by Helene

Self portrait on glass by Helene

Image on glass by Helene


Piles of art and experiments Helene made at Penland in 2012

Helene <3

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Comment by Anne M. Fiala on February 26, 2014 at 11:41am

Here is an update from the family:

Helene and her family are shocked an amazed by the overwhelming support and thank all of you for the support. We are almost at 50% of our goal in only a little over a week..we hope the success continues over the next few weeks. Please continue to share this page and spread the word about Helene.

Helene was able to make it back home from Atlanta and is being cared for by her loving family. She is adjusting to being back home and the family is in the process of planning adjustments to their home so she can stay there and live more comfortably. She still needs 24/7 medical care which her family was fortunate enough to be trained to do. 

Please continue to keep Helene in your prayers

Comment by Anne M. Fiala on February 11, 2014 at 5:54pm

Thanks so much Stacy! 

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