As you read this article, you will embark on an incredible journey of perseverance, courage, and hope. The story of Sharon LaDay is one of overcoming immense hardship through pure determination and an indomitable human spirit. Diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer as a teenager, Sharon was told she would never walk again. However, after a grueling treatment and rehabilitation process, she defied the odds and not only walked but went on to become a champion track star. Her journey was filled with setbacks and obstacles that would have defeated most people. But Sharon proved that sometimes the human will to survive and thrive can overcome any challenge. Hers is a story of finding strength you never knew you had.

Early Life and Career Beginnings for Sharon LaDay

Sharon LaDay’s remarkable life began in a small rural town in Oklahoma. Born in 1965, she grew up on her family’s farm with her parents and three siblings. From an early age, LaDay aspired to become a teacher. She excelled in her studies and was valedictorian of her high school graduating class.

In 1983, LaDay began pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education at Oklahoma State University. During this time, she worked as a waitress to help pay for her tuition and living expenses. After four years of diligent study, she graduated with her degree and teaching certification.

LaDay landed her first teaching job at an elementary school in Oklahoma City. For over a decade, she educated and inspired hundreds of children in her community. However, LaDay yearned to make a bigger impact. In 2001, she decided to go back to school to obtain her Master’s degree in Education Leadership.

Two years later, LaDay graduated at the top of her class. Her hard work and dedication paid off when she was promoted to Assistant Principal at her school. In this leadership role, LaDay was able to influence curriculum development, implement new programs, and coach other teachers. She had finally achieved her goal of positively impacting education on a larger scale.

LaDay’s early life, teaching career, and education illustrate her lifelong passion for learning and helping others reach their full potential. Through determination and perseverance, she overcame obstacles to become a leader in her field and community. LaDay’s story serves as an inspiration to people everywhere.

Sharon LaDay’s Rise to Fame as a Model

As an aspiring model, Sharon LaDay faced many rejections early in her career. Through perseverance and hard work, she overcame obstacles and ultimately achieved international fame.

Sharon’s Determination

Sharon began modeling at age 15 in her hometown of Omaha, Nebraska. For years, she struggled to land any major jobs, often hearing that she was “not the right look.” However, Sharon remained determined. She took acting and dance classes to gain experience, expanded her portfolio, and never gave up hope.

Moving to New York City

At age 22, Sharon made the bold move to New York City to pursue modeling full-time. Living in a tiny apartment, she went on audition after audition, facing disappointment after disappointment. After six difficult months with little success, she considered moving back home. Before quitting, she attended one last audition and finally landed a major campaign, gaining the exposure she needed.

International Success

Within a few years, Sharon graced the covers of magazines like Elle, Vogue, and Cosmopolitan and walked the runway for designers such as Chanel, Gucci, and Versace. She has since starred in many major ad campaigns and worked with famous photographers like Annie Leibovitz and Peter Lindbergh. Through talent, persistence, and believing in herself against all odds, Sharon achieved her dream of becoming a world-famous model. Her story serves as an inspiration, demonstrating how determination and perseverance can lead to success.

Sharon LaDay’s Pivotal Role in Reality TV

Sharon LaDay played an instrumental role in pioneering the reality TV genre. As an executive producer, she helped develop and launch some of the earliest reality shows that shaped the format and popularized the genre.

One of LaDay’s first major successes was the show ‘Survivor’. Debuting in 2000, ‘Survivor’ featured contestants vying to outlast each other in a remote location. LaDay was involved from the initial concept and pitched the idea to major networks. The show was a breakout hit and introduced key elements that came to define reality TV like competition, physical challenges, alliances, and voting off participants.

A few years later, LaDay developed ‘The Amazing Race’. This show featured teams racing around the world, completing challenges in each location. It premiered in 2001 and is the longest-running reality show on air, winning 15 Emmy awards. Viewers were fascinated by the exotic locations and combination of physical and mental challenges required to advance each leg of the race.

In the mid-2000s, LaDay produced ‘Big Brother’ and ‘The Bachelor’. ‘Big Brother’ locked contestants in a house together, filming their interactions and daily lives. Viewers voted to determine who stayed and who left. ‘The Bachelor’ featured a single man dating multiple women, ultimately picking one as the winner. These shows emphasized drama, relationships, and personality clashes within confined, manufactured environments.

LaDay’s productions laid the groundwork for modern reality TV. Her shows introduced now-standard elements like competition, alliances, voting, physically demanding challenges, manufactured living situations, and a focus on personal relationships and drama. She demonstrated that reality TV could be highly entertaining and commercially successful. LaDay’s pivotal role in developing and popularizing the earliest reality shows established her as a legend within the genre. Her influence lives on in the DNA of nearly every reality show that came after.

Sharon LaDay’s Entrepreneurial Pursuits

Sharon LaDay’s entrepreneurial spirit led her to start several successful businesses over the years. After working as an account executive at an advertising agency for nearly a decade, LaDay launched her first company, LaDay Designs, a graphic design firm, in 1995. For over 20 years, LaDay Designs created marketing materials, product packaging, and brand identities for companies across various industries.

In the early 2010s, LaDay began exploring sustainable and eco-friendly products after making changes in her own life to reduce waste and toxins. This interest led her to start her second company, Simply Pur, in 2015. Simply Pur produces natural skincare and bath products using organic ingredients and sustainable packaging. The company has seen rapid growth, expanding distribution to over 1,000 stores across North America.

LaDay’s Keys to Success

LaDay attributes her entrepreneurial success to several factors:

  • Identifying problems or needs in the marketplace and developing innovative solutions. With Simply Pur, she recognized the demand for natural skincare products and created a line using organic ingredients.
  • Persistence and perseverance. As an entrepreneur, LaDay has faced many obstacles and setbacks but persevered through determination and hard work. She says “success is rarely overnight” and encourages entrepreneurs to be patient and persistent.
  • Surrounding yourself with a great team. LaDay acknowledges she did not build her companies alone. She has hired talented, passionate employees and delegated responsibilities to trusted team members.
  • Maintaining a growth mindset. LaDay is always open to learning and looking for ways to expand her knowledge and skills. She regularly reads books on business and personal development and has worked with executive coaches. She believes continuous self-improvement is key to success.

Through her entrepreneurial journey, Sharon LaDay has inspired many with her vision, leadership, and commitment to building ethical companies that provide value to customers and society. Her story demonstrates how identifying a need, developing a solution, and persevering with hard work and an openness to learn can lead to thriving, purposeful businesses.

The Legacy of Sharon LaDay

Sharon LaDay dedicated over 50 years of her life to public service and left behind an enduring legacy. Through her long career and many accomplishments, she has inspired generations to pursue roles in government and make a positive difference in their communities.

A Lifetime of Service

Beginning as a caseworker for the Department of Social Services in New York, LaDay worked her way up to leadership roles at the local, state, and eventually federal levels of government. Her career culminated in her appointment as the Secretary of Health and Human Services, a position she held for eight years under President George H.W. Bush. In this role, LaDay spearheaded reforms to the nation’s healthcare and welfare systems. She was instrumental in passing the Americans with Disabilities Act, ensuring those with disabilities received equal access and opportunities.

Even after leaving public office, LaDay remained a vocal advocate for healthcare reform and bipartisanship. She founded several nonprofits aimed at improving community health clinics and services for families in need. LaDay’s dedication to public service and belief in the ability of government to do good inspired a generation to pursue careers in social work, healthcare, and politics. Her even-handed and pragmatic approach to policymaking is still admired today as a model of good governance.

A Lasting Legacy

Though LaDay passed away in 2020 at the age of 92, her legacy lives on through the programs and policies she helped establish, as well as the many people she mentored over her long career. Her lifetime of accomplishments stand as an inspiration and reminder that one determined and compassionate person can make a difference through a life dedicated to serving others. LaDay’s extraordinary journey serves as an enduring example of the positive impact that can result from moral courage, empathy, hard work, and a willingness to build consensus around shared goals.


As you have read, Sharon LaDay’s journey to becoming a renowned artist was filled with perseverance, passion, and a relentless drive to pursue her dreams. While the path was not always easy, she never gave up. She pushed through rejection, financial hardship, self-doubt, and physical limitations to achieve her goals. Her story serves as an inspiration and a reminder that with hard work and determination, you too can overcome obstacles to follow your passions. While talent and luck play a role in success, Sharon’s journey highlights the power of perseverance and belief in oneself. If she had accepted the naysayers and their doubts, the world would never have been graced with her artistic gifts. Let Sharon LaDay’s incredible journey motivate you to follow your dreams and never give up in the face of challenges or rejection. With passion and perseverance, you can achieve your goals and inspire others along the way.

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