LeAnita Ragland-Brooks is a North Shore treasure. Her creative jewelry designs have graced the décolletages of some of the area’s most stylish women. Made of such materials as rich jade or rose quartz, her necklaces are considered statement pieces. But now LeAnita herself is making the biggest statement of all, stating, “I want to be a part of the fight against cancer.”
Joining the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) North Shore and Lake County Leadership Council in December 2016, LeAnita made a pledge of her time, treasure, and her talent. She designed a necklace this past spring to raise funds for ACS’ Power In Purple campaign and its’ subsequent events. The purple hue was designated as the color to represent awareness for all cancers, several of which LeAnita has unfortunately met head-on.
LeAnita’s sister was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 35; her mother twice within two years. Both are survivors. Her father fought colon cancer and survived, but she lost her in-laws both to pancreatic cancer. The motivation to become an influential force at ACS only seemed natural and right.
“There are a number of nonprofits that support cancer, but I was drawn to the ACS because so much of their efforts are focused on research,” explains LeAnita. The ACS has invested a jaw-dropping $4.6 billion in cancer research since 1946. “They have been so innovative in mammography advancements and publication of research-based white papers. I like to see that a majority of their money is going to the cause and cure, and not administration.”
Due to the wild success of the Power In Purple campaign, LeAnita has turned her sights to the next challenge. It is October, which means all of America is thinking pink. The ACS recently created the Real Men Wear Pink campaign to give local gentleman a greater presence against the fight. The movement gives Leadership Council members like LeAnita the chance to nominate influential men to individually fundraise for the ACS’s breast cancer initiatives. LeAnita chose a friend and recognizable man on the North Shore—Pascal, owner of Pascal pour Elle in Glencoe. He will “compete” against 17 other nominated men from the North Shore and Lake County in raising at least $2,500 to go directly back to cancer research.
As Pascal coifs some of the North Shore’s best looking hairdos this October, many will notice the special bracelet he’ll be sporting. Designed by LeAnita, the bracelet will be a constant reminder for support in his own ACS fundraising. The bracelet is made of onyx and sterling, with the iconic pink ribbon in enamel. And not to leave the ladies out, LeAnita also designed a bracelet made of rose quartz, pink jade, sterling, dragon vein agate, and silk tassel, available in limited edition for the campaign. Proceeds from sales will go to the ACS breast cancer fight, and can be purchased at Pascal’s salon and Le Chic Boutique in Winnetka.
A successful Making Strides Against Breast Cancer kick-off event featuring Pascal and LeAnita was held in August. To celebrate the hard work during the month of breast cancer awareness, a wrap-up Real Men Wear Pink evening will be hosted at 6 p.m. on October 27 at Flagship Tavern at 1622 West Belmont Avenue in Chicago. The plan is for all the competing men to come together as one, patting each other on their tireless, fundraising backs. LeAnita will be right there in the mix.
But in all truth, her work doesn’t end there. LeAnita has only just begun with her community-centered focus of eradicating cancer. “So much of life is just showing up and being mindful,” she states. “Being a part of an initiative that impacts the health and lives of others, like the ACS, has always been paramount to me.”
For more information about the ACS of North Shore and Lake County Leadership Council and Real Men Wear Pink campaign, contact Maryann Rasmussen, Senior Community Development Manager, at [email protected] To purchase LeAnita’s limited edition breast cancer research bracelets, visit leanita.com or call 847-770-1004.