By Sujata Dand
“The trick is in the wick,” Christopher Row explains as he fills up a tin container with soy wax.
The 12-year-old St. John’s Episcopal student is in his candle making office, a converted closet on the second floor of his East Dallas home. His pet bird Wheatley watches quietly from his cage.
“My favorite scent is called fir,” Christopher shares. “It reminds me of pine trees.”
Christopher has been making candles for almost two years. It all began when he was sitting with his family in a restaurant in New Mexico. He was mesmerized by the candle on the table and it “sparked” an idea.
“How hard could it be to make a candle?” he wondered. And, so he started researching on the internet. A few weeks later, voila — Row Candles was born.
“He’s always been motivated by money,” his father Jeff Row laughs. This was clearly not Christopher’s first business.
Christopher says he started when he was 4 years old by cleaning his parents’ house. By the time he was eight, he had “The Business- Business” where he cleaned up dog poop for his neighbors.
But, candle-making was different.
When you open the tin, you understand why. Christopher’s story is inside. He donates the profits of Row Candles to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, a cause he is passionate about after being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was 10 years old.
“It makes me feel like I’m contributing,” Christopher explains. “When I first found out that I have diabetes, I felt like I wanted to help. I like helping.”
Two years ago, Christopher was on a father–son trip when his dad noticed something wasn’t right with his son.
“I couldn’t quench my thirst,” Christopher recalls.
His father took him to an urgent care facility. Christopher’s blood-sugar levels were extremely high, and he was immediately transferred to a hospital.
“It was scary and heartbreaking for us,” says Kathy Row, Christopher’s mom. When they learned Christopher had been diagnosed with diabetes, the doctor told them he would need four to five insulin shots a day.
“It’s a hard thing to work up to giving your child shots. On the third day of his hospital stay, the nurse said, ‘Mom and Dad (pictured at right), it’s your turn to give him shots now.’ Jeff and I looked at each other. And, Christopher said, ‘For goodness sake, I’ll do it!’ And, he grabbed the syringe and gave himself a shot. And, he has been doing it ever since.”
Christopher says it was difficult in the very beginning, but he took it all in stride. “I just changed my way of life. You get used to it.”
He told the doctor, “It’s kind of like having an imaginary dog you have to always feed and always take care of.”
His mom says he never complains. “That’s incredible to us. You think that he’d have a day where he’s sick of diabetes. Last night, he had to change his insulin pump site. I said, ‘it’s time to change your pump site,’ and he said, ‘be down in 5 minutes.’”
Anyone with kids knows that’s not typical, but Christopher is not your typical kid.
“He’s mature beyond his years,” Kathy says. “He’s funny and quirky.”
“An old soul,” his dad Jeff jumps in. “He’s always been like an adult. When he was three, he would go up to people in the mall and start having a conversation with them.”
In the almost two years since he started Row Candles, Christopher has raised almost two thousand dollars for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. “It makes me feel like I’m doing something for the world — I’m making an impact.”
For more information on Row Candles, visit rowcandles.com.