Published: Apr 24, 2010 1:25 AM EDT

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. - Next month, a Port Charlotte glass artist will get an honor that's out of this world. Her work will be blasting off into space!

6 astronauts are preparing to travel to the International Space Station, and Terri Fout's NASA bead will go up with them. "They are going to carry the beads into space and when they return they are going to be given to a child in the program," Fout said.

"Beads of Courage" is a program designed for children with serious illnesses. Every time they go through a difficult procedure or overcome an obstacle, they get a special bead as a reminder of their courage.

It's a great honor for any artist. Fout, whose beads are sold at Bijoux in Punta Gorda, is one of a handful artists worldwide whose handmade glass beads will make this cosmic journey on the space shuttle Atlantis. The Beads of Courage program has been helping kids since 2004. "Some of them end up with hundreds and hundreds of beads and they can go back and look at the strands of beads and see, each bead represents something that happened to them while they were in the hospital," Fout said. "Every bead I make that I donate to them, I am thinking about what child is getting it and the smile on their face."

Imagine the look on their face knowing their bead was in outer space and the astronauts were thinking about them. Fout didn't win anything monetary prize, but said, "Going into space is prize enough!"

Those 12 days in space will bring a universe of encouragement to kids who need it most. Atlantis blasts off May 14. Fout and several other winners will be at Kennedy Space Center watching.