Roundup sets new goal for 2003 to
help disadvantaged, ill children
David Howell, Canby Herald
local community has backed many charitable and nonprofit efforts for
From helping support youth sports to backing fund-raisers for services
From raising money for ill or injured children and adults to participating
in school PTAs.
From helping keep history alive to helping keep us all alive by planting
So it should come as little surprise to community-minded citizens that
two local women's drive to assist children with permanent medical hair
loss has been successful in its first year.
In fact, JillMarie Wiles and Kendra Mikulec are beyond thrilled with
people's reactions and responses.
Currently, the duo have received about 260 ponytails, which they have
sent on to Locks of Love, a Florida-based nonprofit group established
in 1997 to provide custom-made hairpieces -- which cost up to $3,000
-- to financially disadvantaged children under 18 with medical hair
So far, a total of about 2,800 inches have been donated to the Canby
cause -- or about 230 feet of hair.
Among the donations, the average length of which is 10-and-a-quarter
inches, is a ponytail that was chopped 55 years ago.
The goal is to reach 300 ponytails by spring 2003.
Wiles, a local award-winning auctioneer, and Mikulec, a longtime employee
at Cutsforth's Thriftway, began "The Ponytail Roundup" at the Canby
Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Feb. 6, 2002.
Mikulec's boss, Frank Cutsforth, bid $450 to cut off her long, dark-haired
mane -- and, since then, many other women, men and children have followed
"Initially, we were only collecting 140 ponytails to raise awareness
for Locks of Love, and we began by auctioning off cutting rights for
Kendra's 16-inch ponytail at the Chamber lunch last February." Wiles
"That was the plan . . . then a web site was donated by Joanne Rabun,
Front Street donated before-and-after photos, and then one friend told
"Donations began to roll in -- ponytails were being given to us
in the grocery store, at soccer games, at civic group meetings, and
at our front doors.
"There were donations from children to grandmas, from women, and
from men. Cancer survivors were donating and encouraging others to donate.
Area salons were calling us for pick-ups. People donated ponytails they
had saved for years and others cut their hair on the spur of the moment.
"Before we knew it, we reached our goal of 140.
"We celebrated crossing the finish line, but the momentum of the
success took over and the ponytails kept coming in.
Wiles said Canby's Ponytail Roundup received ponytails from all over
the United States, including Chicago, Champaign, Ill., Lincoln, Neb.,
Las Vegas, Phoenix, and we even received a ponytail from Mexico.
Wiles said her friend Maggie Hubbard did missionary work in Mexico through
Canby Christian Church, and encouraged a girl she saw getting her long
hair cut to donate to the cause.
Ponytails have been donated by more than 100 Canby residents, plus people
living in Aurora, Hubbard, Woodburn, Baker City, Klamath Falls, Silverton,
Sherwood, Estacada, Eugene, Wilsonville, Turner and Dundee.
"It's all because they had heard about the Roundup from a friend or
loved one in Canby, and wanted to help," Wiles said. "Each month, we
continued to mail our box of ponytails to Locks of Love and, in December
2002, our tally reached 256.
"Kendra and I continue to be amazed at what our little town of
13,000 has done to help the Locks of Love organization . . . I often
go up to people and ask them to consider donating. It's just people
talking to people, and seeing if they would like to help a worthy cause."
Although 10 inches is the preferred length, donors can give ponytails
that are 6- to 10-inches long and of course longer lengths are expected
Wiles grew her, too, and had the 8-inch ponytail chopped last summer
"Last July, I was able to have the `cutting rights' to my hair auctioned
off at the National Auctioneers Association's Conference and Show in
Orlando," she said. "The top bid for cutting my ponytail sold for $400
in a crowded ballroom. It was a great opportunity to share the message
with auctioneers from all over the world about the works of Locks of
Love and the Ponytail Roundup.
"I spoke briefly to the crowd before we began the auction and told
them that collecting hair was about giving the opportunity to children
with permanent medical hair loss to have hair if they wanted it.
"I told them how hair loss can create voids of self-esteem and
issues of acceptance for some children, and how important it is to make
sure the cut hair makes it to an organization that can make a difference.
I briefly addressed how alopecia, burns, and cancer creates permanent
hair loss for children.
"After my hair was sold and cut, I walked off the stage and a boy
about 13 asked if he could talk to me. I noticed he was completely bald.
He said, `Thank you for making them understand, and for doing what you
did. I have alopecia.'
"He said he had just recently chosen to go completely bald, but
how important it was for kids to have a choice.
"I was so touched by this kid's courage and sincerity. He really
left an impression on me about the importance of creating awareness
in a positive way while collecting donations of ponytails and funds."
While in Florida, Wiles arranged to visit the Locks of Love headquarters,
and took a tour.
"I was fortunate enough to be there on mail day, and see the process
of how the envelopes of hair are opened, and then sorted by color, length
and texture," she said.
"It takes approximately 14 ponytails of all the same color to create
one hairpiece. I also was shown the thorough process of how applicants
are selected, and then the steps in creating the custom-fitted hair
"From the time the custom molds of each child scalp is produced,
then shipped out with the hair for construction, to the time the finished
product is sent out to the child, the final product takes months to
"The attention to detail is incredible and creates an extremely
realistic hair piece, which is more like a prosthesis than a wig. The
child can swim, sleep, shower, horseback ride, play sports, and be completely
uninhibited without ever fearing the hair piece coming off on its own.
"I was able to see one being shipped out that day to a child and
it validated the work we were doing here in Canby with the Ponytail
Mikulec also said she was inspired by stories she heard.
Shelby Hellman, a local 8-year-old, had a birthday party last year and
told her guests she didn't want gifts -- instead they could bring either
a ponytail or a monetary donation for Locks of Love.
She collected $125 and a few ponytails, including her own.
Mikulec has also had numerous contacts with Hispanic community members,
including Rosa, the "cover girl" on the web site, www.ponytailroundup.com.
"Kendra is very visible at Cutsforth's Thriftway, so a lot of donations
were collected through her," Wiles said. "There was also a documentary
made by some college students with Kendra as a project, and an OCTS
volunteer is involved with collecting footage.
"As people can see, it truly has been a community affair -- with
the Herald, the Chamber, Thriftway, Columbia River Bank, area salons,
OCTS, Front Street Photography, and so many local citizens participating
to get the word out.
"I think of all the hair that would have been swept up and thrown
away when there are children with permanent hair loss.
"The Ponytail Roundup has evolved to an ongoing campaign. People
understand, and we have made it easy for them to participate.
"It's a nice feeling to know that we've made a difference in getting
the word out, and that in our town of Canby ponytails don't hit the
Added Mikulec: "People have lots of compassion. They say, `Hey, man,
it's to help a kid.'"
Wiles said it's important for people to know that to donate, the hair
needs to be washed and completely dried, secured, measured if possible,
braided (so it stays together better in shipping), secured at the bottom,
"Kids get to select a hairpiece, and many choose to have it the way
their hair was before they lost it to alopecia, cancer, or burns," Wiles
said. "Each hairpiece hair is put in place by hand in a company in California."
If donors include their name and address, Locks of Love will try to
send a `thank you' postcard, Wiles said.
In addition, the Ponytail Roundup has created "Tail Tags," which makes
donation easy, and they can be picked up at Thriftway Customer Service,
or online at www.ponytailroundup.com. The Ponytail Roundup also accepts
monetary donations in a special account set up at Columbia River Bank
"The first week of each month financial donations and hair are boxed
and sent directly to Locks of Love," Wiles said.
"Our goal is to create awareness, and insure that it is easy for people
to send the ponytails to the organization on a regular basis. If people
know of a child under 18 with permanent medical hair loss, and would
like to know more about the efforts of Locks of Love they can contact
them through our web site."
Wiles and Mikulec hope people will contact them.
"We would like to help a local child, as we have yet to hear of any
needing assistance locally," Wiles said.
Hair salons currently participating in the Ponytail Roundup are:
Canby Hair Design, Kris Clark and Paula Hoffstadt, 275 S. Ivy St., Canby.
Grant Street Hair Design, Lisa Lavarnway, (owner), 131 N. Grant St.,
Canby. Tel: 503-263-4642.
International Hairways, 239 N.W. 2nd Ave., Canby. Tel: 503-266-4390.
Hair of Today, 348 NW 1st Ave., Canby. Tel: 503-266-2290.
Canby Supercuts, Sue Smith (manager), Canby Market Center, 1477 SE 1st
Ave., Suite 111, Canby. Tel: 503-651-2840.
Park Avenue Salon, 266 N.W. 1st Ave., Canby. Tel: 503-266-7272.
Stylist, 403 N. Water St., Silverton, OR 97381.
Wiles and Mikulec said they recently presented framed "certificates
of appreciation" to the participating salons.
For more information, visit www.ponytailroundup.com, or call Wiles at
503-263-4747, or Mikulec at 503-824-3960.
For more information about Locks of Love, write to 2925 10th Ave. North,
Suite 102, Lake Worth, Fla. 33461, or call 561-963-1677.