Anthony Leanna, age 11 from Suamico, Wisconsin started a program in April of 2001 called Heavenly Hats .His Heavenly Hats program is a program that collects brand new hats for children and adults who lose their hair due to cancer treatments. As of July of 2002, Anthony has collected over 5,000 brand new hats, from as far away as Australia and has been able to send and deliver them to more than 60 different hospitals and clinics around the United States.
Anthony started this program after he spent a lot of time in different cancer hospitals when his grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Anthony was able to see many people in these hospitals without hair, and asked a lot of questions about their condition and why they did not have any hair. It was shortly after this that Anthony came up with the idea for Heavenly Hats.
He told his mother that he wanted to do something to help the people in the hospitals who had lost their hair. He said if he had cancer and lost his hair, he may feel bad and would want to wear a hat, so some of the patients must feel that way also. He said, “the patients probably would like to have a hat right in the hospital to pick out so that if they don’t feel good when they get out or if they can’t afford to buy one due to the expensive costs of treatments they won’t have to worry about it.” He said he wanted to put a smile on the faces of the people going through a tough time, even if it was just for a minute or two.
It was then that Anthony sat down at his computer and came up with the name Heavenly Hats. He made many flyers and then had his parents drive him to different businesses in the area. He bravely went to the store managers of many stores and asked them if he could place a box or a bucket in their businesses so that people could donate new hats. Soon the media got a hold of the idea and also helped him out. He then got on the phone and called local companies to see if they would donate hats and emailed hat companies around the United States to see if they would be willing to donate hats. The program started to take off and has been going strong ever since. He has even had a girl scout troop in Georgia use his program to earn their Silver Star Award. They were able to collect over 400 brand new hats for this program.
Anthony goes through each hat to make sure that it is new, separates them into categories such as adult hats and children’s hats, bags them all individually and then sends or delivers them to different hospitals and clinics who have requested them. He pays for all of the bags and shipping out of his grass cutting money and allowance. This Heavenly Hats program has touched more people than Anthony ever dreamed it would. He loves to be able to help the cancer patients and has received many rewarding phone calls from very appreciative people.
Anthony’s program means even more to him now than ever before as his dad, Glen was diagnosed with kidney cancer in September of 2002. He underwent a successful surgery in October of 2002 and is doing well. Anthony gave him an “awesome dad” hat.