GREEN BAY, WisconsinIn 2001, a grandmother with breast cancer inspired Anthony Leanna, then 10 years old, to start the Heavenly Hats Foundation, a nonprofit corporation that provides free headwear to cancer patients nationwide. "After spending time in hospitals when my grandma had breast cancer, I was able to see all of the patients in the hospital, many without hair, and wanted to do something to help. I knew that if I was in the hospital and had lost my hair, I would want a hat to wear," Mr. Leanna, now 15, says on the foundation's website (www.heavenlyhats.com). His grandmother, he adds, is "doing great."
The hat gathering started with "donation barrels in local stores," Mr. Leanna said. To date, the Foundation has distributed some 90,000 hats to hospitals and clinics around the country and thousands more directly to individuals.
The Foundation is holding its first "National Hat Parade Day" on October 6. The idea is that anyone at a participating school or business who donates $1.00 to the Foundation will be allowed to wear his or her favorite hat that day at school or work.
"It is my dream to have a Heavenly Hats chapter in every state across the United States and eventually in other countries," Mr. Leanna said.