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Inventor, survivor, mom entrepreneur helps support breast cancer research

Monday, October 13, 2008
Leslie Haywood is a survivor. At the age of 34, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, had a bilateral mastectomy two months later and underwent two reconstructive procedures. All of this while raising two young daughters and launching a start-up company, Grill Charms™.

Leslie was a stay-at-home mom until a dinner party changed the direction of her life. Her husband served her the wrong piece of chicken off the grill and that night she started sketching prototypes for her gift idea and grilling innovation know as Grill Charms™.

The concept is similar to wine charms, but for your food. Grill Charms™ are the size of a dime with a decorative head and a stem that is textured so as not to fall out of the food while grilling. They are made of food grade solid stainless steel, and sit flush on the food so they do not interfere with the grill when being moved or flipped. Food is Grill Charmed prior to cooking so when it comes off the grill perfectly charred and plated for guests, everyone knows which one is theirs. “They simply look for their unique individual Grill Charm™,” said Haywood. “No more cutting into five steaks to try to find the rare one. No more having all mild barbecue chicken because only a few people like it spicy.”

A few months after that very spicy light bulb moment and right in the middle of all that is involved with starting a company, raising two children and building a grilling gadget empire, her life would change again with a simple yet also very complicated call. “It’s cancer” her doctor said.

Now with her bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction complete, her scars won’t let her forget, but her personal fight is done. Both her mother and she won their battles, but the war is far from over. Leslie has two younger sisters and two beautiful daughters, so her mind still can not truly leave the disease behind.

This month, she is launching The Pink Collection of Grill Charms™. This newest collection, available in a pink and black box sporting the breast cancer pink ribbon, features six charms engraved with pictures of a high-heeled shoe, chef’s hat, wine glass, swan, summer hat and the ribbon signifying support of breast cancer research. “I am trying to do my part to raise awareness and funds through my business to find a cure for the sake of my daughters, and everyone’s daughters,” added Leslie. 10% of the money raised from the sale of this collection will be donated to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation to help fund research.