Shopping For A Good Cause

Some ways to both shop and support a little angel.

It is said that diamonds are a girls best friend, and there is a case where no truer words could be spoken. Diamonds Chicago is offering shoppers a chance to get incredible deals on all kinds of shiny and sparkly things and support a very special little girl at the same time. For a limited time, this jeweler with a heart will be donating a portion of sales to Laila, a tiny little angel fighting for her life right now at Lurie’s Children’s Hospital in Chicago.

Laila’s condition is as unique as the diamonds being sold to help her family; actually, you could say she is very much like the Hope Diamond in that hers is the only known case of it’s type in the world. She was born seemingly healthy, but beginning at three months old, underwent heart, airway and four gastro-intestinal surgeries. Initially, the prognosis was guarded but good. She made it through her surgeries and was sent home, where she recovered, grew and thrived, even though she achieved the standard baby milestones behind her peers.

At twenty two months old, Laila was sitting up and trying to talk, benchmarks normally reached at nine to ten months in most babies. But, she was above the curve in other ways, winning the hearts of everyone she met. Life was full of challenges for Laila, but she was meeting them with an indomitable spirit that inspired everyone around her.

Until one morning when she didn’t wake up as usual. When her mom went to check on her, she seemed to be sleeping peacefully, but it soon became apparent something was wrong. Little Laila was very pale and barely breathing. The next minutes were a frantic blur as her mom scooped her out of the crib, grabbed the keys and rushed to the hospital where staff immediately called a Code Blue. She was in full respiratory arrest.

As time slowed to a crawl and her mom waited helplessly, staff worked to stabilize little Laila. The next thing her mom knew, she was being informed her baby girl was on full life support and needed to be airlifted to Lurie’s Children’s Memorial Hospital.

That was four weeks ago, and Laila has since proven her fighting spirit is as strong as ever. She is still beating the odds, but the challenges ahead are formidable. It was determined she had suffered three strokes and heart complications and since having been admitted to the ICU, she has had to be resuscitated twice. All this has taken its toll and as of now, the prognosis is not good. The Doctors say she has minimal brain activity and hold out little hope she will ever be able to walk, talk, see or hear, but her heart is strong and she is able to breathe on her own, though she is receiving help because her airway is still weakened from all the trauma.

Still, her mom, who has yet to leave her side in the infant ICU is hopeful and refuses to give up as long as her daughter continues to fight. Little Laila has baffled the Doctors from the beginning, and even now when her condition may seem hopeless, she is still defying their ability to explain what has and is happening. This scrappy little angel is beyond the medical field’s knowledge and has been since her first breathe nearly two years ago.

All the doctors know for sure is that she is truly the only one in the world with this particular genetic disorganization. Because of this, her treatment, care and prognosis have been teaching them. From a scientific standpoint, they can’t explain how she is still alive nor what happened to set off the initial series of strokes that brought her to her current circumstances. Her grandma, however, does have an answer. She says it is because this little girl was meant to be here, and that is the answer that is giving the family strength.

Laila’s family is facing many unknowns and uncertainties, but sadly there are some things they do know all too well. Laila’s care up until now has required twenty-four seven monitoring, a task that has been taken on by her mom and grandma; her future care may well prove to be more than untrained though loving hands can handle.

To help both Laila and her family, a few people have stepped up, seemingly out of the blue. Carle Kelly, an Oak Lawn resident and a family friend heard about Laila’s crisis and set up an account for the family, calling it “Bringing Laila Home” at TCF Bank.  She even seeded the fund with a $700.00 deposit. Anyone wanting to help can simply go to any TCF branch and make a donation; checks can be sent to any branch as well. But, Carlee didn’t stop there.

Carlee Kelly is a certified gemologist and the owner of Diamonds Chicago which is a wholesaler, jeweler and jewelry and watch repair business in the heart of the diamond district at 5 South Wabash Street in Chicago. Carlee said that though her diamond and jewelry design business is by appointment, walk-in clients for watch batteries, jewelry repairs and cleanings are common. She has set up signs in her store and has helped spread the word on the internet and Facebook that a portion of sales will be donated to the “Bringing Laila Home” fund. She is also offering either Rhodium plating or cleaning of a piece with any purchase of $10.00 or more as a way to help bring more awareness to Laila’s plight. Customers who don’t know anything about this little girl or her family before seeing her signs are welcome to take advantage of this offer, with each sale generating another donation.

The good people at Valley Inn in Palos Hills are helping out as well. On Monday, December 3rd, they are holding a Sip and Shop from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., which is a great way to have dinner, maybe a drink or two and knock out some of your Christmas list. In addition, there will be a 50/50 raffle, with the proceeds going to the Bring Laila Home fund.

If you can’t get downtown to Diamonds Chicago, or to the Valley Inn on Monday, you can at any time go to ChipIn:Bringing Laila Home to make a donation. Let’s all support this little girl in her fight, and her family who want nothing more for Christmas than to bring their angel home.

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Jackie P. December 02, 2012 at 12:06 AM
Ashley has been an inspirational example of a mother's strength, love and dedication to her child! Laila is so lucky to have her by her side and we pray for them every day!
Peggy W December 02, 2012 at 12:55 AM
Thank you for sharing Laila's and Ashley's story and on how to help them. Please help get Laila home!
Melissa Gregory December 02, 2012 at 01:57 AM
Laila and Ashley have truly touched many hearts around the nation. Help bring them home!
Lauren Metcalf December 02, 2012 at 02:45 AM
Thinking and praying for Laila and Ashley everyday. Keep fighting Laila!! Please help bring her home!
Lisa Majewski December 04, 2012 at 05:16 AM


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