Former Desert Vista student Ashley LeMieux experienced unforeseen success during her first year as founder of a charitable organization.

And it might never have happened if she didn’t injure herself while running a half-marathon.

LeMieux hurt her leg and couldn’t walk for two months after graduating from Arizona State University. She was working a paid internship at the time and the injury barred her from going into work.

But it sparked an idea. The hours and days passed by while she recovered and eventually she decided she was not going to waste that time.

“I realized that I could be self-employed,” she said.

Last year, LeMieux started the Shine Scholarship Project. She started out by selling necklaces, with the goal of giving scholarships to teens who might not otherwise be able to attend an institution of higher learning.

Then it really took off.

She was featured on local news stations which led to the organization bringing in $10,000 to be put toward those scholarships.

“The injury was a huge blessing - it opened my eyes to what I wanted to do,” she said. “I can’t thank the community enough. It’s confirmation to me that I chose to do the right thing.”

She handed out eight scholarships which ranged between $500 and $2,500. But part of the goal of the organization, she said, was to teach the students to be financially smart and independent, and to help them after their scholarship runs out.

The Shine Scholarship Project gained 501c3 status and brought on a board of directors in the last year. Last Wednesday, she started up a second phase of her vision. In her new project, called Threads, she employs these teens to make the bracelets for the Shine Project. She currently employs eight and pays them between $10 and $14 an hour for 10 to 20 hours of work each week.

LeMieux said it has already paid off in the fact that several hundred had been sold in less than a week.

“I really felt like I needed to just do more,” she said. “I wanted to give them something after the scholarship money runs out.”

The past year has been a wild ride and LeMieux expects it to continue.

To find out more or to make a purchase, visit the website,

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