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Heartfelt Stories Happen at Annual Locks of Love
By Tracy Rolling - Ramona Home Journal
• Sat, Feb 01, 2014
Though it occurred a little early this year, the 11th Annual Locks of Love event hosted by Artistry In Hair was a huge success.
But it wasn’t the number of ponytails collected or the generous monetary contributions made by the community, patrons and hardworking hairstylists — it was the story behind each donor.
Salon owner Natallie-Rose Phillips shared, "Its incredible how much love comes from each person’s donation.” Locks of Love is a nonprofit organization that helps children suffering from various forms of hair loss by providing them with hair prosthetics. Phillips says that men, women and children may donate ponytails 10 inches or longer — even chemically treated and naturally gray hair.
"On average, it takes between six and 10 ponytails to make one prosthetic,” she says, explaining how the collected ponytails are hand-woven into a specially molded skullcap and colored to match the hair of a child in need.
This method of construction gives children confidence to swim, perform gymnastics or just swing on a swing set without feeling insecure about their appearance.
Ramona resident Katelyn Devermann knows all too well what it’s like to lose her hair. She lost hers at a young age when she was battling leukemia.
"Katelyn was only 15 months old when she was diagnosed with leukemia,” said her mom, Krystal Devermann.
"It was the most trying time of our life. I was pregnant with our second daughter, and Katelyn was going through sometimes five rounds of chemo a day.”
After seven long months of living at Rady Children’s Hospital, Katelyn was able to return home to Ramona.
Today, she is five years in remission. Not only is she a survivor, but she is grateful for her best friend Tegan Barker, who donated her hair in Katelyn’s honor.
Tegan’s mom, Erin Barker, explained how she and Krystal shared the same due date before the girls were born.
"My husband, Travis, and I have been friends with their family ever since,” says Barker, telling how Tegan suddenly asked days before the Locks of Love event if would be okay for her to cut her hair and donate it for kids who might be sick like Katelyn was.
"Katelyn inspires her,” Barker says, describing her daughter a very kindhearted six-year-old. "I think it was an act of God. Not only did she come up with the idea on her own, but it was Katelyn’s grandma who got to cut Tegan’s hair.”
Stylist Cherri Frazier said it was an honor and that she is very proud of both girls.
Believing that everything happens for a reason, Barker says that Tegan’s little sister, Riley, has hair just a few inches shy of the required donation length and plans to donate in the months ahead.
Another donor was Leslie Hodge, owner of A Country Clip dog groomers. She said she was inspired to donate her hair after growing it out for more than two years, and has previously donated to Locks of Love. She knows her thick red locks will bring much love to a child in need.
Local resident Joshua Cobian suffers from cerebral palsy. He uses a wheelchair, and his only method of communication is offered through verbalizations his mother, Nora Cobian, has come to understand.
When his mom asked him if he wanted to donate his hair in honor of late Grandma Juanita, who passed away from a cancerous brain tumor, she says, "He got so excited and couldn’t stop smiling. I knew he wanted to donate!”
Phillips says there are so many heartfelt stories in Ramona and across the country where people are donating their hair and raising awareness about the national program.
"That’s why I do this. To bring love and hope to children in need,” says Phillips, crediting fellow stylists Frazier, Michelle Wooldridge, Jo Barefoot and Joani Shall, and her mom, Sandy Phillips, who prepared refreshments and manned the front desk during the event, for volunteering their time.
"It’s true she may be too young to remember that part of her life,” says Krystal about Katelyn’s ordeal. "But for older children, hair loss can be devastating. It’s amazing how much a little bit of hair can make such a big difference in a child’s life.”