Remembering Leonore Draper: #BrightLight Campaign Brings Awareness to Anti-Gun Violence & Multiple Sclerosis
The solid orange profile pictures cropping up across Facebook and other social media sites this week are far from being the latest Internet game.
“On Friday, April 25th, we lost the life of Leonore Draper (affectionately known as Lee). She was one of my best friends. Today we stand in unity against this awful epidemic of violence that is taking over the streets of Chicago. This is only the beginning. Lee was a fighter and we are taking action. Join the #BrightLight campaign by posting this orange image as your social media profile.”
This heartfelt Facebook request from Leonore’s friend, Jocelyn Delk Adams, has helped a grieving city mobilize instead of be paralyzed by the news of yet another innocent life taken by gun violence.
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Thirty-two-year-old Leonore Draper, a community activist and budding makeup artist, was found shot to death near her home, only a short while after leaving an anti-violence fundraiser she helped to organize.
“She was a warm spirit that was full of life, promise and spunk. She was a true go-getter and really went after her goals and dreams without holding anything back,” says Jocelyn Delk Adams, creator of the A Charitable Confection fundraiser that Draper attended. “The best part of Lee was her ability to give. She was a loyal friend that would give you anything in the world, whether it was a shoulder to cry on or a hilarious joke to ease the pain.”
Two causes that Draper tirelessly gave to were fighting gun violence and multiple sclerosis (MS) research. She was a fundraiser for Project Orange Tree, a teen-run nonprofit created after the death of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendelton to help end gun violence, and also the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Draper’s husband lives with MS, an autoimmune disease that affects the brain and spinal cord. Research shows that African Americans suffer from more MS risks and the disease progresses more rapidly.
Both organizations champion the color orange and #BrightLight organizers chose the color because of its significance to Draper.
On Friday, May 2, a candlelight vigil will be held at 10 p.m. in honor of Draper in the same location where her life was taken, 11601 S. Laflin. Those that are outside of Chicago can show their support by lighting an orange candle, taking a photo and uploading it to their social media networks using the hashtag #BrightLight.
The “oranging” of social media is only the beginning of a much larger movement. Adams shares:
“In Chicago, we have already brought together a team of 25 multicultural young professionals spanning the city that are fed up with the senseless violence robbing us of our best and brightest. We are currently strategizing and arranging to bring all of these top community and anti-violence organizations into one initiative where we can pull our resources and finally work together having a larger impact. We also hope that #BrightLight will also continue to bring people together nationwide starting with this vigil. Nowadays social media is providing the connectivity needed for everyone to be affected by what is going on in Chicago. We want people to know that it doesn’t matter where you are, you can make a difference in your community and also show your support for what we are doing to eradicate the issues in our own city.”
Funds are also being raised to support the MS Foundation, Project Orange Tree and memorial costs for the Draper family, and donations of any amount can be made via leonore.eventbrite.com.
WATCH: Leonore Draper and her husband, Jason Draper, talk living with MS[ione_embed src=//www.youtube.com/embed/nQbroRWlslg service=youtube width=420 height=315 type=iframe]
Visit the BlackDoctor.org Multiple Sclerosis center for more information.