May 06, 2002 12:00 PM

Medical identification bracelets are a necessary accessory, way more about safety than style. Which explains why some people can’t bring themselves to wear them all day every day. “Those bracelets are so ugly,” griped actress and diabetic Halle Berry on The Rosie O’Donnell Show of the plain tag-on-a-chain that, until recently, was her main option. Then she flashed a multicolored beaded replacement. “These,” she said, “are hip and groovy.”

That’s just what Denise Gaskill and Le Ann Carlson had in mind. The suburban Kansas City, Mo., moms created the stylish Lauren’s Hope for a Cure bracelets, which also flag conditions such as epilepsy and asthma and cost $39.95 to $79.95, last year after Gaskill’s 14-year-old babysitter Lauren Philips, a diabetic, almost died from an insulin-related seizure. At the time Philips wasn’t wearing her standard ID bracelet because, she says, “I worried what people would think of me.”

Gaskill, 35, and Carlson, 42, who started You Name It, a personalized jewelry company, in 1994, called their new enterprise Lauren’s Hope and began offering the baubles on their Web site ( So far they’ve sold nearly $200,000 worth, with 10 percent going to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. “Now it doesn’t bother me that people know about my diabetes,” says Philips. “I feel like a normal kid.”

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