SURFSIDE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - Two friends met four years ago in a cancer support group. One’s a cancer survivor and the other was a caretaker.
They now run their own cancer support group but have found a love for helping everyone find encouragement and hope. It’s free and makes a lot of people happy.
"Look at the color of the ocean,” Becky Bogart said to her friend, Donna Tyson.
“I know it’s beautiful,” Tyson replied.
The two were walking to the 16th Ave. N beach access in Surfside Beach. They were looking for shells.
“You could pick these up because you could write small scripture in that," Tyson said with a shell in her hand.
They scoured the sand for the perfect shells of all types, even the broken ones. They look for shells to take home to their ‘shell shed.’
“These look like angel wings,” Bogart said of some shells they brought back home from their walk.
Bogart and Tyson sat at their table in the shed to get to work. They find inspirational messages to write out of devotional books, but also scripture from their own hearts and memory.
“This one says, ‘With God all things are possible,' and this one ‘Be not quick in your spirit to become angry,’” Tyson said, reading what was written inside the shell. “I have my favorites I know by heart.”
Tyson is a motivational speaker and has been writing in shells for 12 years.
After they write on the shells, Tyson and Bogart take some back to the 16th Ave. N beach access to scatter above the shoreline. Then, they wait for people to find them.
“Some of them need them, some of them don’t. Some of them are just happy to find them. It’s like us being happy to find the shells that we can do this with...and then knowing people are just going to be blessed and touched by them. It’s great,” Tyson said with a smile.
“It’s like Christmas,” Bogart explained. “It’s just like being a little kid opening a present. Knowing these people are about to pick that up and that they’re going to get something out of it.”
“I like it when they look up and they don’t know who did it. There’s a beauty in it because they really feel like it’s their own personal miracle. Then they feel like that’s what I needed today,” Tyson said.
A beautiful gesture fit for a beautiful place. With their involvement in the cancer community, the women have experienced grief and loss. They said they find peace and comfort at the beach, and in their shell shack, hoping to bring happiness to others. Although Tyson is creating happiness for others, she’s soaking in some of it for herself.
“I’m losing my vision, so there will come a time when I won’t be able to see the shells. So it’s even more meaningful now to be able to see the sunrise and see the shells,” Tyson explained.
Tyson’s eye disease progressed because of the chemo that helped her beat breast cancer. So every day, her walks, the shells she finds and the curve of her pen on the shell all mean a little more. She advises you to take all of life in.
“Just something that makes people stop and reflect and be grateful. If you wake up in the morning only with what you thank God for tonight, what would you have? You know those kinds of things," Tyson said.
‘Scripture Shells’ with Tyson and Bogart is run out of the business Seashore Nativity. Bogart makes Christmas nativities year-round with shells from the beach.