Monday, March 14, 2011

TOP STORY >> Sacrificing ponytails for others

By Joan McCoy
Leader staff writer

For Debbie Cooper of Cabot, brushing her daughter’s long, curly hair was more than a chore.

The inevitable tangles hurt 5-year-old Ashley’s head which upset them both. But Ashley liked her hair long, so cutting it wasn’t an option until last week.

“I don’t know why I asked; maybe divine intervention,” Debbie Cooper said about suggesting that Ashley donate her hair to sick children.

“It wasn’t preplanned. It just came out of my mouth,” she said.

And to her surprise, Ashley not only said yes, she wanted to go immediately.

By late last week, Debbie had made appointments with Ann Gilliam, the Cabot alderman who has operated a beauty shop for 40 years, for Ashley and Missy Mootz, her 23-year-old cousin who had talked for months about donating her long hair.

Together the cousins will donate 31 inches of hair that will be made into wigs, 12 inches from Ashley and 19 inches from Missy.

“I’m going to donate it to Pantene,” Ashley told The Leader Monday afternoon. “If kids don’t have hair when they’re sick, we’re going to make wigs for them.”

Missy said she has always had long hair. And although she sometimes got tired of the more than two hours it took to wash, dry and brush it, that wasn’t the only reason for cutting it.

“I was in a situation six months ago where I needed help,” she said. “We had a house fire and everybody’s help was really appreciated.”

By donating her hair, Missy said she felt like she was giving something back for all that people had done for her. And since Ashley’s mom had gotten the idea to donate Ashley’s hair from her, she really had little choice about going through with it herself.

“I thought this is my shining opportunity and I wasn’t going to back out,” she said.

According to the Pantene website, the company has collected about 210,000 ponytails since July 2006 and helped to donate 6,300 wigs.

“It was a little sad to see it go, but it’s just hair. It will grow back,” Missy said.

But Ashley is so pleased with her shoulder-length curls, she’s decided for now to keep it that way.