Jen Costello always knew she was different. Diagnosed at age 4 with cancer, she endured years of experimental radiation and chemotherapy. At 52, she lives with debilitating side effects.
“I’ve had so much radiation, I glow,” Costello says, laughing.
Eight years ago, Costello was depressed, focusing on her leg braces and cane. “People see canes and they see the disability,” she says, “not the person.” Determined to change that, she taught herself to carve. She made her first group of canes — shaped like No. 2 pencils — in 2013.
An artist with a mission was born.
Costello founded the Lean On Me Project, which provides free canes to others with disabilities. Today, Lean On Me partners with carvers across the U.S. and in three other countries; the project has donated more than 450 canes to people who rely on them in their daily lives.
When people request a cane,…