Owner of Leroy's Lip Smackn' Lemonade to share his story of preterm birth

Eleven-year-old local entrepreneur Leroy Hayward of Leroy’s Lip Smackn’ Lemonade, born two months early, will be honored at the area’s most popular charity food event: March of Dimes Signature Chefs Auction, presented by Aetna, on October 11.

Leroy was born about two months early, weighing just four pounds, seven ounces. He contracted infections at birth and was diagnosed with slow development, facial nerve injury at birth, and later found out he had hearing loss in both ears. Leroy spent his first 119 days in the Woman’s Hospital NICU fighting for his life.

"Leroy was born with a number of challenges, and at one point, we were told he would not make it. Well Leroy has made it!" says Leroy’s mom, Sherilyn Hayward. "Over the years Leroy has developed tremendously and wants to give back to the people that have helped him. We are grateful to the March of Dimes for their commitment to help give every baby a fighting chance.

"When life hands you lemons, we make lemonade! Leroy sells lemonade from the business we started six years ago and donates proceeds to support the March of Dimes 2018 Signature Chef’s Auctions Fund the Mission Campaign. We invite the community to join in our efforts."

At the event, prominent area chefs will prepare their signature dishes created exclusively for the evening. Lead Chef Joshua Hebert of The Cabin Restaurant, Bernadette’s Table, and The Coffee House at The Cajun Village will be joined by a stellar lineup of chefs from the area's most prominent restaurants, including Chef Celeste of Celeste Bistro, Chef Colton of Louisiana Culinary Institute, Chef Chad of The Gregory Restaurant, Chef Danny of Flemings, Chef Danny of Bin 77, and the executive chef of Embassy Suites. The event begins at 6 p.m.

Funds raised by Signature Chefs Auction help support research, lead programs and provide education and advocacy so that every baby can have the best possible start.

Today, one in eight babies in Louisiana is born premature, nearly 8,000 babies each year. March of Dimes is committed to working together to improve the health of every mom and baby.

In addition to presenting sponsor Aetna, sponsors of note include Silver Sponsors: Woman’s Hospital, Georgia Pacific; Bronze Sponsors: Rockhold Family Foundation, Healthy Blue, Infamedics, Coca-Cola, OLIN, Louisiana Lottery, SGI, Civic Solutions, Total Petrochemical, and BASF.

To support Leroy’s efforts, visit signaturechefs.org/event/batonrouge or contact the March of Dimes office at 225-347-8803.

Contributed by March of Dimes