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Lighting a flame: Omaha man’s transplant inspires candles with a mission

April 19, 2024

Rodney Bennett received a kidney transplant in 2019. Nearly five years later, Rodney is fulfilling a dream inspired by his gift of life.

Rodney is launching the Hope Weaver candle, the inaugural candle collection for his Codename: CANDLES brand, that will not only solidify Rodney’s goals to become a full-time entrepreneur but also positively impact his community.

“I don’t want to be the candle guy that’s just making candles out of his grandmother’s basement,” said Rodney. “No, I want to be a big candle company that’s going to employ a lot of people so that I’m not just making candles, but I’m giving back to the community economically.”

In college, Rodney would frequently light candles to help create ambiance and get him in the right frame of mind for studying. But it wasn’t until after his transplant that he realized that his love of candles could be something more.

Just months into his transplant recovery, Rodney’s grandmother noticed the build-up of smoke on the walls of Rodney’s room that resulted from the carbon in the candles he was burning. That sparked an idea in Rodney; he could make a better candle.

So Rodney began studying what he deems the art and science of candle crafting.

He learned about wicks and how he could control the amount of smoke from a candle by choosing a better wick material. He experimented with different wax varieties to find the right combination of wax and scent. He learned that candle crafting involves a lot of math, something that Rodney struggled with in school, but now capably tackles as part of his business.

Rodney landed on a bright scent with hints of sweet citrus for the Hope Weaver candle. The candle comes in a sapphire blue jar, and soon, a shiny gold vase with an engraved lid that shares a message of hope.

But the candle represents more than its fragrance and vessel. Rodney is using the candle to shine a light on the need for organ donation, all inspired by the unknown man who saved his life.

“Once I got that transplant and they released me from the hospital, I said, ‘this time I’m going to live this life to the fullest.’ I am going to make an impact on my community and others in dedication to my donor.”

Rodney has big plans for the future. He hopes to become a full-time entrepreneur in 2025, launch more mission-driven candles, make Omaha a hub for candle crafters and candle lovers, and one day, place a Hope Weaver candle in the hands of his donor’s family.

“If my donor were still alive, I think it’s something he could be proud of.”

Hope Weaver candles are currently available at Elmwood Pharmacy in Omaha and will soon be available to purchase online at



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