It is not every day that you meet a ray of light, but if you ever have the pleasure to meet Leila, you will gain that experience. Born and raised in Port Orchard Washington, our volunteer Leila has become the team photon. Loving, energetic and knowledgeable, Leila has been a constant support for our In My Backyard team.
Leila received her undergraduate degree from Washington State University in Wildlife Biology. During her time at college, Leila was diagnosed with kidney failure. Although her diagnosis has come with major inconveniences, such as having to perform dialysis every night and not being able to eat avocados, Leila has not let it hold her back. In fact, it seems almost impossible to ruin Leila’s infectious optimistic demeanor. We happened to meet Leila at the exact right time in her life. on September 9, 2014, after three years of dialysis, Leila received an organ transplant from a family member.
Despite the fact that Leila used to spit on salamanders in the woods as a child, Leila has a great love of animals (she spit on the salamanders because she thought they needed to stay moisturized, so she was actually an environmental steward at a young age). Her dream job would be raising lion cubs! She has also developed a love of facts. She likes to collect fun bits of information to expand her knowledge. Perhaps because of this, Leila gives great advice. When asked what advice she would give to her younger self, she replied, “Allow the challenges in your life to develop who you are, not hinder who you are.” Leila has faced many challenges in her life, and it is clear to us all that they have only made her stronger.
Leila is an absolute joy to be around. She has even said that she likes to make friends wherever she goes. This is apparent as it is, as far as I can tell, impossible to dislike her. To help you get a better sense of who she is we made sure to ask the important questions. Her favorite spice is cumin while her favorite Spice Girl is Sporty Spice. She likes a golden brown marshmallow for s’mores rather than a burnt marshmallow. Her favorite book is A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah. Out of all of the Scooby Doo characters, she identifies most with Scooby Doo. She describes herself as headstrong, determined and an idealist. But most importantly, she would rather be stalked by a Komodo Dragon than be stalked by a clown.
Leila told us that her spirit animal is a mama bear and we all agreed that it fits perfectly as she is the embodiment of warmth. Leila is a magnet for good karma and with her new kidney she will be an unstoppable force.