Salty Soothers: Fundraising for Cystic Fibrosis

Shay Mason with her Salty Soother baby teether.

A personalized baby teether that started as a fundraising idea has become a small business and a labor of love for Holly Lane resident Courtney Mason, founder of Salty Soothers.

Mason’s daughter, Shay, was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis six days after her birth, a life-changing event for the Mason family. Doctors recommended keeping Shay, now 2, home from day care to lessen her exposure to germs. Instead of returning to work, Mason, a mother of two, chose to stay home to care for Shay.

More than 30,000 people in the United States live with cystic fibrosis, a genetic, incurable, life-shortening disease. That relatively small number—less than one thousandth of 1 percent of the U.S. population—means a corresponding relatively small amount of government-funded research goes toward the disease. In 2021, The National Institutes of Health spent $89 million on cystic fibrosis research, compared with $254 million on Parkinson’s Disease, $129 million on lupus and $120 million on ALS research. Organizations like the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CFF) rely heavily on donations to pick up the slack. In 2020, the foundation spent about $250 million in research.

Courtney Mason, founder of Salty Soothers, with daughters Ramsey and Shay.

Mason decided to combine her love for crafting and all things DIY with her background in studio arts to come up with a way to fundraise for CFF. “They’re the reason we had hope for Shay’s future,” she said.

She was already making “best friend” baby teethers for her daughter and friends and got good feedback when she posted pictures on social media. After getting 45 orders on the first day and exceeding her fundraising goal soon after, she decided to turn her hobby into a small business. “Cystic fibrosis is very complex.  If you were to lick Shay right now, she would taste salty,” Mason pointed out. Hence the name Salty Soothers.

Mason continues to donate a portion of the proceeds from all sales to CFF, in the hopes that CF one day stands for “Cure Found.”

In the last few years, there have been major advancements in the treatment of cystic fibrosis. “If I was born with cystic fibrosis, they would have given me maybe until high school to live,” Mason said. Now, children born with the disease are living into their 30s, 40s and even into their 50s.

In addition to teethers and matching pacifier clips, Salty Soothers sells other handcrafted and personalized baby accessories and gifts like bag charms for backpacks and hair clips. One of the most popular items is the wristlet keychain for adults who want to avoid the constant search for their keys.

You can find Salty Soothers at Barefoot Stitches and Gifts, 313 Beverly Road or online.