Leela & Lee Designs

I’m so excited to share this local business with my Lucky Life family. I’m going to go out on a limb and say this is one of the most special posts I’ll ever do… I know, I’m one month old. But I’m declaring it. 😉 With rapid growth, Leela & Lee’s stunning jewelry is quickly becoming a Charlotte staple. Once you learn this beautiful jewelry and the and heart and soul behind it- you’ll recognize it anywhere. 

Mary Ann with husband Christian, Lee & Evelyn Ann – Nov 2014
 

Let me first tell you how I heard about Leela & Lee. As you all know, I’m a CLT Find-aholic. I’ve been buying necklaces, my girlfriend got me one for my birthday, and I was so impressed by the style and detail put into these pieces. Fast forward a month later, I found a mama on M2M (non locals- M2M is my online mom group) and she shared a short piece of information about herself that had a massive impact on my heart. The post she commented on was about a family that lost their little boy in Atlanta due to a total, freak accident. Major tragedy that had our whole little tribe shook to the core. Thats where I saw the comment from Mary Ann Ciciarelli saying that she lost her 5 year old son in 2015. She sent her condolences and offered a helping hand if the family needed someone to talk to. My heart dropped into my stomach as I clicked on Mary Ann’s profile and began stalking away. I see this happy family with their two little baby angels, a boy and girl that are around the same ages as Liam and Palmer. Then I learned that she owns Leela & Lee. So not only am I sitting over here bawling about such a tragic yet incredible story…. I’m wearing her jewelry. Pretty sure I reached out to her after just to tell her she was a rockstar. We’ve stayed in touch since and I’m so blessed to call her a friend of mine. 

❤️💙Now, let me talk to you about Mary Ann’s son, Lee. Throughout you’ll see a plethora of collages because A- I couldn’t pick only a couple pictures and B- You can learn a lot about this sweet boy (and family) just through photos. This little superhero was born on Easter Monday, 4.5.2010. 

After some health issues in his first year of life, a Long QT 8 was ultimately found through an EKG which is otherwise known as the rare disorder, Timothy Syndrome. Lee was one when he received this diagnosis. Timothy Syndrome is rather new and considered to be a cardiac condition. After a risky heart surgery at such a young age, Lee began beating the odds.

As you can see, this ray of sunshine lived his life to the FULLEST. In November of 2015, Lee started having symptoms children commonly get with a cold… only with his fever, this meant a hypoglycemic seizure could come on. And it did. At one point he seized until his heart came to a complete stop. CPR was performed for 9 minutes and they were able to revive Lee, but the loss of oxygen made too severe of an impact on his fragile body. On November 24th, 2015, Mary Ann & Christian made the hardest decision of their lives. They chose to remove the breathing tubes as they sang their blessing song to the little love of their lives. 


Lee’s light continues to shine brightly through his family’s dedication to the Timothy Syndrome Alliance, co-founded by Mary Ann. His story brings outstanding awareness, and with Leela & Lee, Mary Ann is able to raise money toward TSA (10% of every purchase goes to TSA!) Also, very cool fact- Lee got his name “Super Lee” because just weeks before his passing, he had the whole family dress up as Superman for Halloween. What’s so crazy about this? Although I didn’t know the Ciciarelli’s yet, I too, chose to dress my little family up in Superman costumes. I truly believe it was not a coincidence, but a God thing. And there is a big reason that Mary Ann’s family was brought into my life! 

Also, Lee’s baby sister Evelyn Ann. Oh that sweet girl. She will forever be the proof of little Lee’s testimony- she looks so much like him and loves him as much as he does her from in Heaven. EA has brought so much beauty and joy to heavy times, and she will forever carry on her big brother’s legacy. 
Speaking of Evelyn Ann she ALSO rocks Leela & Lee jewelry because (drum roll please…..!) there is children’s jewelry available for purchase! You can find it at Argyle Alligator 😍 Obligatory modeling pics that are almost too cute to handle:

Evelyn Ann with her cousin, Amaya

You can order your goodies at leelaandleedesigns.com ~or~ find pieces at CLT Find (within 7th Street Market) & Moxie Mercantile (Plaza Midwood). And in case you have relatives or friends in Roanoke, Virginia- you can also find Leela & Lee at Magnolia Furnishings. 
Now, last but not least, the amazing GIVEAWAY! To enter to win: Comment below and tell me about someone that has/is struggling in your life and why they inspire you. You don’t have to use names, just share what you can. For a second entry, follow @leelaandlee & @luckylifeblog on Instagram! Winner will be announced Wednesday morning- our first preseason GAMEDAY!! Go Panthers! I will have it at your door ASAP so you can rock it for the game that evening! If you can’t already tell, I’m obsessed with mine…. 

Best of luck to my Lucky Life lovers that enter to win! I love you all, until next time….

💚Anna

47 thoughts on “Leela & Lee Designs

  1. Simply an amazing impact that Mary Ann is making by sharing his story and impacting the community!

    I am inspired by one of my “second moms” who has battled cancer man times over the years and is yet again in another battle. She is courageous, persistent, and one of the most positive and loving people I know even though she has been through so much. Simply inspiring and reminds me to live life to the fullest every day.

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  2. What a beautiful family. Thank you for sharing their story. My husband is such a constant inspiration to me. He’s suffered so much loss in his life and has fought the depression that accompanies it. His strength and openness is such a wonderful example for our kids.

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  3. My 92 year old grandmother is my inspiration. She has had a rough go at her health the last few years but she keeps fighting. She is hoping to be back up and walking without assistance soon and back to living on her own. She is a strong independent woman.

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  4. I am inspired by my cousin – who is in remission and continues to kick cancer’s ass!!

    And I continue to be in awe of Mary Anne and her strength. ❤️

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  5. I am inspired by my Dad to not let my medical conditions rule my life. My dad has been through so much medically and physically in his life. It’s hard to know where to begin! My dad’s medical struggles started at a young age when he was in the army–playing a game of baseball he accidentally got most of his teeth knocked out and had to get dentures. My dad had a horrible accident at work where he was seriously injured and still to this day, has medical issues due to the accident. He’s gone through countless surgeries, rehab, and treatments, yet I rarely hear him complain (unless he’s in serious pain!). Recently, I’ve had some serious medical issues myself and he’s been supporting me through this all.

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  6. This story definitely touched my heart and I’m inspired by Mary Ann, her sweet family, and you, Anna for sharing her story! Reading your post brought tears to my eyes for sure. My sweet friend has been struggling in recent years with a divorce and keeping her faith during difficult times, but she has persevered and is constantly an inspiration to me to keep fighting! Thank you for sharing Mary Ann and Anna 😊

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  7. Love this! I work in mental health with children and adolescents and am inspired by their strength and resilience daily! Some of them have already been through so much in such a short time on this earth and I always feel so honored to be able participate in their journey.

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  8. I work in palliative medicine at Levine Cancer Institute. I am inspired by the people that I meet every day. It definitely helps with perspective and trying not to sweat the small stuff. ❤️❤️❤️❤️

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  9. Pulling on my heart strings. So beautiful. The loss I am currently suffering is the loss of my sweet Daddy to Alzheimer’s disease. He was diagnosed at 58. He is now 65. He is a stage 6 now (there are 7 stages) and it is beyond heartbreaking to watch. The disease is vicious and slowly has robbed him of all the things he loves and slowly steals his dignity and independence. I feel so helpless. There is nothing I can do but watch this wicked disease take my daddy.

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    1. Here for you, Rebecca… seriously. PM me if you need anything at all. My heart is hurting for you and your sweet daddy. I lost mine when he was 58 and can relate on certain levels. Xoxo

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    2. I am currently watching my second grandparent go through this now (stage 4)… it is so heartbreaking!
      I always try to remember that as hard as it is, the suffering is ours more than it is theirs. And I just think about what joy is waiting for them in heaven! I will be praying for you!

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  10. I too believe that God’s plan is bigger than our own. I’ve known loss my whole life; unfortunately it has become a norm for me. I was 5 watching my mother pass from lymphoma. Back then (1990) the world of medicine was much different. My mom, Marita, received a treatment that took her away from North Carolina for an entire summer. She was one of the first to go through this type of treatment. Many years later, after her death, and through the involvement with cancer research and education, I have found out through the cancer patients I meet that this is one of the most horrendous procedures to experience… and my mom did it. As weak as she was from her 2 and half year long battle, she did it. I, being 5 at the time of her passing, get information that I was too young to know from my father. So I asked him one day why did Mom go through that pain? She was already so weak. He said, “she did it for you kids.” Tears are streaming down his face and mine. My mother was a warrior.

    To all those who are battling something in life, remember to “Keep Pounding”! Sam Mills became one of my role models, as well as my favorite Panther player because of his positivity, his spirit that will live on in this community for many many years to come. My heart goes out to Ciciarelli family – about Lee’s spirit living through his sister gave me goosebumps. I find my son laughing and waving to the ceiling or behind me, and I smile because I know it’s my Mom.

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  11. I work with the pediatric cardiac population and these kids are the strongest warriors you will ever meet. I am inspired by anyone who can take one of the most difficult times in their lives and turn it into a positive. My friend Katharine has had to watch her mom decline in front of her eyes and even through that heartache, she chose to educate others, volunteer and be a huge advocate for ALZ. She’s amazing.

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  12. What a beautiful story about a beautiful boy.

    I have 2 children with a rare genetic syndrome. We had a healthy pregnancy and child with our first and had no idea we were carriers. After a hard and long year of feeding difficulties (and a feeding tube) my middle son was diagnosed with something called Smith Lemli Opitz Syndrome. At this point I was already pregnant with my daughter who would also test positive for this syndrome at birth. While these 2 babies of mine are tough as nails, it’s my oldest son, Noah, who inspires me. He deals with doctor appointments, therapy sessions and attention that is not his. He is kind and compassionate and loves his brother and sister fiercely. Unfortunately the chances of either of my babies living independently is rather slim, but I know that whenever my husband and I are not around any more, Noah will be there to protect, love and help his siblings. Not because we expect him to, but because that’s the type of person be is.

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    1. I just looked up Smith Lemli Opitz Syndrome and it has some similiarties to what my Lee had, Timothy Syndrome! It wasn’t until his syndactyly surgery on both hands that we found out about the Timothy Syndrome. We spent many many hours and days in doctors offices, with specialists, with early intervention, with therapists as well. I am inspired by your story with two children with the condition! And love what you said about your son Noah!

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  13. This post was so inspirational. I have a very good friend who has gone through a lot with her only child this past year. However, through the roller coster that her and her husband have been through, she is always positive and willing to help you and listen to problems (even though they are small compared to hers!)

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  14. So Mary Ann and I went to high school together and I have followed her journey since Lee was born and diagnosed! She has continued to be an inspiration to me! Through all the ups and downs and losing her precious son, she has remained a fighter and constantly looks for ways her story can help others. Her willingness to share Lee’s story inspires so many to keep fighting! We don’t talk regularly, really just keep up through social media, so Mary Ann probably doesn’t realize how often I think of her and the amount of respect and love I have for her – she is an inspiration that inspires me along with everyone she touches!

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  15. I cannot imagine the strength. Mary Ann—you are a rock.

    I have been inspired for years by my sweet friend Elizabeth, whose cancer came out of nowhere at 30, was treated into remission, and has again surfaced—this time in her spinal column.

    Despite the pain, she continuously supports her husband and three boys. Her forever mantra has been: there are worse things than cancer.

    She stays prayerful, loving, and graceful throughout the journey.

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  16. I lost a dear friend to breast cancer 7 years ago when she was only 27. She fought so hard and loved so well. I miss her and still choke up when I talk about her. She inspires me to live in the moment.

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  17. Thank you for this post, it is a beautiful reminder that life can change instantly.

    My second daughter inspires me. She suffers from daily pain that has been mostly unknown as to the exact cause. She is a migraine kid with migraines that lasts months. And on top of that she deals with her celiac disease and terrible leg pain. Some days are better than others, somedays she begs to be a normal kid. And other days we remember that God is in control and He is the author or her beautiful story.

    For all of these stories mentioned above and when your child has a chronic issue, the daily life can be exhausting and disheartening. But each day we try to remember that God’s plan is bigger than our plan and that one day we will look back at how He wove her story into something amazing.

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  18. I have a friend that lost her son a few weeks ago at the age of 18 months. He had a rare form of disease when he was born. This same friend just announced they are pregnant with a baby BOY! As mentioned above, it reminds me of the Eddings story. The heartbreak any parent goes through for such a tragedy or loss is unbearable to even think about. The hope, strength and love that Christ gives is what is evident in my friend’s (as well as the Eddings) life is such a testament that we serve a loving God and His timing is always right. My prayer is that through stories or hardships like these, people would come to know Jesus and not ask the “why’s” but simply thank Him and have a yearning to know him. Beautiful post and a beautiful story. God bless you all.

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  19. This story is heartbreaking. No parent can ever imagine dealing with this type of loss. My inspiration is a mom of a student I used to teach. She has three daughters (one with severe cerebral palsy and epilepsy) who is 4 years old. She showed such strength battling each day for her family. Trying to balance work, and care for her child, yet being the first to volunteer for classroom functions. She is absolutely my inspiration and I continue to pray for her family daily.

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  20. This story gets to me and inspires me every time I read it. My husband is a Type One diabetic and struggles with it daily from a mental and physical aspect. His strength and patience inspires me daily and makes me want to work harder to make his life easier and support him to the fullest. It also makes us realize life is short and we need to focus on what and who matters while we do still have time together. Thank you for sharing and Go Panthers!

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  21. Thank you for sharing this story. Recently, a story inspired me and helped dig me out of a hole I was in. I am sure most people have heard the Eddings story. They tragically lost their two young sons in a car accident.

    I had the opportunity to go hear Gentry and Hadley Eddings speak at Forest Hill. They talked about how even in the midst of their sadness, they never lost their faith. Hadley spoke of this unwaivering belief and comfort that God had a plan for her and that is what helped her through.

    Their story left me in awe and inspired me to reevaluate my own faith. I am struggling with secondary infertility and had really let it get me down in every area of my life. Hearing their testimony helped me and inspired me to put my trust back in the one thing that is going to get me through these difficult times.

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  22. My cousin has a stroke at 40 after giving birth to her 3rd baby. The day after school ended I flew up to help her raise her 3 boys and get her back to health. I sold all my concert tixs, Panthers tixs and put my life on hold. Tonight she came into town for a business meeting and we had coffee. I spent a total of 47 minutes with her. A year ago I didn’t know if she was going to make it. She’s doing much better and she inspires me everyday to live life to the fullest and don’t take anything for granted.

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  23. That post was hard to read yet inspiring. I am honeatly inspired every day by all of the moms around me and how strong and brave they are. They help keep me going when the days are tough. Thanks for sharing your heart here. Xxxo.

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  24. I am currently earnestly praying for a woman who is dear to my family who has over the last 12 years lost 3 grand babies and just about 2 weeks ago her youngest son (31 years old) took his own life after dealing with depression & PTSD. My heart absolutely aches for her and the family. She is inspiring in that she never wavers and keeps her eyes fixed on Jesus, knowing He is the still point in the storm that seems to never stop raging around her.

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  25. This is such an inspiring story and I am so glad to be a part of this mom tribe!

    My moment came recently when I found out that after SEVEN years of infertility one of my good girlfriends is having a baby…by surrogate. It took her so long to get to this point physically and especially mentally and I am so proud of her and inspired. She is an amazing woman and will be an even better mother 🙌🏻

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  26. I’m an official mess now! What an amazing momma Mary Ann seems to be. I’m sure that sweet Lee is one proud boy up there to have a mom who’s still down here fighting for him. I love her line also!! As far as the struggling in my life, I’ll pick my momma. My dad was recently diagnosed with cancer (GBM, the John McCain kind) and it has all of us a mess. I see my sweet momma cry everyday. I can’t possibly imagine the thought of loosing my life partner. She is so scared, angry, sad, tired, lonely, and so much more that I can’t even fathom. It’s just heartbreak on top of heartbreak. Makes you really appreciate all of your loved ones everyday!!

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  27. I’m a social worker in palliative care. I work with adults (18 and up). I’ve met patients from age 18 through 105. All with different stories and illnesses- young mother with end stage cancer, lonely old man with heart failure, the young man who’s still in college but had a rare neuro disorder. Many have family to help them thru their tough moments. But some don’t. Regardless without getting too much into anything, I can see each patient for one reason or another inspiring me to live my best life. It’s cliche to say maybe, but it can definitely be cut unexpectedly short or pass in the blink of an eye 100 years later. Never too late to be happy. I’d follow on Insta as well but don’t it 🙂

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  28. A friend from high school has a son with a rare form of spine cancer. She is THE strongest woman I know to have to fight this battle daily, put her son through multiple surgeries, and try to help him the best she can bring totally helpless. Still staying positive and bright every day. She is an inspiration to everyone she meets including myself and her son is amazing!!!

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  29. What an amazing story. Praying for this sweet family. I am inspired by all the amazing women in our tribe who are brave enough to share their stories and unknowingly helping so many others out there through their strength.

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  30. I had the pleasure of knowing Lee and watching him grow for two years as a teacher at Myers Park Baptist TTWS. Lee was an inspiration every day. His high energy, his affectious smile, his curious nature. He was so strong, and continues to inspire me everyday. I think of him so often.

    As I stated on instagram, another person who has inspired me is my “big brother,” my brother-in-law Jay. Jay was paralyzed in a car accident at the age of 19 while serving in the army. Jay would tell you himself; he never was angry he just accepted his new life.

    There was of course challenges and harships, but Jay despite this tragic occurrence has rised above and has lived an incredible life. He has just gotten his masters degree, he is currently writing a book. He has become involved in local politics and trying to make a difference. He has started a business, and most importantly he has created a charity softball game that is held annually. He gives all the proceeds to autism services here in Charlotte.

    Jay is one of those that likes to donate anonymously. He is constantly finding others in need. He tries to do good whenever he can.

    He’s truly inspiring.

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  31. Sweet Lee’s story is so inspiring… as a teacher I have come in contact with so many children who have had such heartbreaking stories…

    From teaching title 1 where kids only ate when they were at school Monday through Friday, to having kids with imprisoned parents, the things I’ve had to see children go through is almost unbearable. But I can’t help but think of a special young man who is at my school now. He has what is called PANDAS, and it is a rare disease that affects adolescents when they don’t completely kill a strep virus with antibiotics. It effects their brain in such a way that they lash out on friends and family members, threatening to harm others and themselves… there are a few treatments in DC but there is no cure until the child hit puberty and the virus can’t attack them anymore. My students family has been SO patient, taking him to and from treatments, working with his teachers, and CONSTANTLY praying and trusting God for complete healing during this difficult time. I am constantly inspired by their faith and joy and the positivity they radiate!

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  32. First of all I love these! I thought about doing something simular but for autism, now on to who inspires me. My son Nathan is autistic and struggles daily with sensory issues but he is such an inspiration to me! This year he learned how to swim and ride a bike!

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  33. Sending love and prayers to Mary Ann and her family.

    I’m inspired by a dear friend of mine. She lost both of her parents shortly before she got married in 2012. I just can’t imagine. She had a sweet baby girl in February, who had to spend 2 months in the NICU and is now preparing for heart surgery next week for this little 5 month old. I just can’t imagine the adversity she has faced and how she stays so strong.

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  34. Oh sweet friend, you inspire me! I love your passion for your family and for Jesus, even though you are going through a season a trial right now! You have such a tender, giving heart and head full of wonderful ideas! You are doing big things love!

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  35. Lee and his family have played a big role in our lives as well. We are blessed to know of Lee and his big life through my mom who had him in preschool. They had a very special bond. Lee and his family have continued to inspire us. The best example I can give is the day after a horribly 3 day long, eventful and exhausting labor, my mom walked into our hospital room to greet my daughter and I. I was wearing my SuperLee shirt giving us strength when we certainly needed it.

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  36. Hey girl! As you know, Graham receives a diagnosis of Cri du Chat back in October. Our whole family struggled with it, but as a kim it was awful. You can read the entire story on my blog at mypieceofhere.wordpress.com

    Graham inspires me every day and our support system is an inspiration as we love this little boy fiercely and unconditionally despite diagnosis.

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  37. Oh sweet friend … I love your heart and I am praying for these mommas! Thanks for sharing their story with me! Throughout my life my grandmother has faced so so many hardships (husband passed at 43, birthed 8 children, raised 3 young boys without an earthly father, battled drug addiction problems with her youngest child, had financial struggles, battled breast cancer … ya she’s my hero!) yet she never ever ONCE pointed her finger in hast at The Lord, rather she raised her hands thanking Him for all the good. She’s an amazing woman and still to this day she makes me want to be more like Jesus. This world is so broken and torn but if we face each day like Jesus we can conquer anything! Hugs Anna ❤

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