2018-02-01 / Shorts

Igniting Hope

How one mother turned her family’s experience with pediatric cancer into a way to give back
Samantha Lauriello

For many, hope is a light at the end of a dark tunnel during life’s most challenging moments. Tammy Fountaine has turned her hope into a tangible flame through her business Lights of Hope – Candles for Kids.

After her oldest son Tommy was diagnosed with leukemia in 1998, Fountaine says hope became a significant part of her daily life. “There were days when hope was the only thing I had.”

One way Fountaine found hope during that time was through friendships she formed in an online email group that connected her with other parents who had a child diagnosed with cancer.

“These groups provide so much support. You’re communicating with them whenever you want, and for me it was on a daily basis,” Fountaine says. “They do become like family.”

One of the moms Fountaine met through an email group had started a business making bath and body products as well as candles. When Fountaine’s friend decided she was ready to retire from the business, Fountaine decided to start one of her own.

After about two years of research, Fountaine formed a business plan and had nearly mastered the art of making soy wax candles. But these candles would hold more meaning than aromatic fragrances.

“The candles that I make are very special because they are all named after children who have had cancer at some point in their life,” Fountaine says. She’s named candles after children she’s met through email groups, by word of mouth and more.

Working closely with each child and family, Fountaine creates a candle that’s meaningful to each individual story. Some candles may smell like the child’s favorite dessert, like Chad’s Strawberry Cheesecake, or be named after a fond memory, like Lauren’s Dance with Dolphins.

In 2009, Fountaine’s youngest son Adam co-founded FOTO, a special interest THON organization at Penn State, in honor of his brother Tommy.

Now, two of FOTO’s THON children have candles named after them, Logan’s CinnaBerry and Megan’s Frosty the Snowman.

Tommy, whose candle is named Tommy’s Hope for the Holidays, finished treatment in 2002 and now works as a pediatric hematologist and oncologist.

Fountaine donates a portion of the proceeds from Lights of Hope to The Four Diamonds Fund. She also runs a holiday fundraiser each year in support of FOTO.

“Going forward, I just want to keep giving back to childhood cancer because it has been such a huge part of my life,” Fountaine says. “I’ve always felt so honored to be able to represent these extraordinary and precious children through my candles.”

Find out more about the candles at and at The Branch and The Vine in downtown State College. •SCM

This year’s Penn State IFC Panhellenic Dance Marathon, THON, takes place Feb. 16-18.

Return to top