Third grader gives up hair for grandmotherBefore this month, 9-year-old Elizabeth Hey had only been to a beauty salon once, to fix a couple unauthorized cuttings done by her brother when they were little.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
Before this month, 9-year-old Elizabeth Hey had only been to a beauty salon once, to fix a couple unauthorized cuttings done by her brother when they were little.
Her mom, Rhonda Hey, had begged Lizzie more than once to cut her long hair, but Lizzie refused. No way was she cutting her hair.
“She loves her long hair,” Rhonda said. “Even when it’s hot and sticky, even when she goes swimming at the lake all summer long.”
On June 4, however, Lizzie went willingly to Cost Cutters at Pine Tree Plaza in Cloquet to have her long silky locks cut to her shoulder. In all, she lost more than a foot of hair.
She did it for Grandma Sue.
Her maternal grandmother, Sue Ratajczak, had started chemotherapy treatments two weeks before to treat her recently diagnosed breast cancer.
“I did it because my grandma has cancer,” Lizzie said before submitting to the shears. “I wanted to help other people who had cancer.”
Salon manager and stylist Lindsey Lipkie admired Lizzie’s long sandy brown hair before she cut off well over the minimum 12-inch donation, taking Lizzie’s hair from most of the way down her back to just above her shoulders.
Rhonda said Lizzie, who is the youngest of 11 children, has become even more aware of giving to charity and others who are struggling because of another much beloved family member: her brother Chris, who committed suicide last August.
Christopher Wager would have graduated this spring, and was a tremendously talented pianist who had already earned a scholarship to the prestigious Julliard School in New York City. He was an honor student at his school in Valley City, N.D., where he lived with his dad.
Chris was also addicted to prescription painkillers and had become depressed, Rhonda said, adding that he had tried to kill himself once before.
Since his death, Rhonda and other family members have been selling copies of “Dancing on Broken Ice,” the CD of piano music Chris wrote and performed. They donate all the money to the Inspire Hope charity, which aims to reach out to teens struggling with depression, addiction and other challenges and let them know there is help available.
On the day of the haircut, Lizzie brought one of her brother’s CDs and a bracelet that read “You are not alone” on one side, and “Inspire hope” on the other. She collected the $10 for the CD and turned it over to her mom, to send to Inspire Hope.
“We want other teenagers to know his story,” Rhonda said. “And other parents, too, to know that depression and addiction can affect everyone, whether you’re an honor student or struggling in school. And we want them to know that help is there and people care.”
Sometimes help comes in the form of a counselor or another lifeline thrown to those in distress.
This time it came in a pair of long brown ponytails, freely given so someone else could have a better day.
Lipkie explained that the Locks of Love Foundation uses the best hair for wigs – which are donated to disadvantaged children with medical hair loss from causes such as chemotherapy or alopecia areata – or they sell the hair to be used for things like mannequins.
“Her hair would definitely be usable [for a wig],” Lipkie said, adding that Lizzie was one of the youngest Locks of Love donors she’s had in the salon. “She had really thick ponytails, too, that’s good.”
After having her hair cut and styled, Lizzie checked out her new look in the mirror, fiddling with her new, bouncier hairdo.
“How do you feel?” asked her mom.
“I feel happy,” Lizzie said, “because other people get to use my hair.”