This article reprinted from the
Saturday, February 9, 2002

Harvesting Hair to Show They Care
Local women commit to help a
worthwhile cause for children

Kendra Mikulec
photo courtesy of Front St. Photos, Canby, Oregon
By David Howell and Jon Bell
The Canby Herald, Canby, Oregon

For more than 16 years, he has been her boss at the downtown grocery store.

Last week, he also became her barber, chopping off more than 16 inches of her lovely long, brown hair.

And with a few clips, Frank Cutsforth and Kendra Mikulec kicked off a new fund-raising drive last week which aims to help ease the worries of some young children.

The cutting-rights auction - and Mikulec's hair - will benefit Locks of Love, a nonprofit organization that provides natural hairpieces for disadvantaged kids age 18 and under who suffer permanent medical hair loss due to cancer treatments, alopecia or burns.

After the 31-year-old married Colton woman learned through friends about Locks of Love, she visited its website and learned it takes at least 15 ponytails of at least 10 inches in length to construct one custom-made vacuum fitted hairpiece for each child.

"It's a very important cause," Mikulec said.

"I, myself, babysat a child with permanent hair loss.. She would be in tears as she would come off the school bus, and her single father couldn't afford an expensive hairpiece... we want to help children like her get their self-esteem back."

The hairpieces - which costs about $3,000 each - allow children to swim, ride horseback, or be involved in any other type of activity.

It took almost two years for the longtime Cutsforth's Thriftway employee to get comfortable with the idea of growing her hair for charity, but the worthy cause convinced her it was the right thing to do.

When fellow Canby Kiwanis Club member JillMarie Wiles heard about the plan, the two women decided to go public with the project.

Together, Mikulec and Wiles, a rural Canby resident and a current international champion auctioneer, began their "Ponytail Roundup" at the Canby Area Chamber's of Commerce's Feb. 5 luncheon.

"We know how tough it can be to feel different as a child; the emotional trauma of losing one's hair," Wiles said. "We're starting the Ponytail Roundup - the only chapter in Oregon - right here in our hometown of Canby, Oregon

Wiles, of Beneficial Auctions in Canby, conducted last Tuesday's auction in her distinctive chant - "Rev up your wallets, listen to your hearts, and let's have an auction" - and numerous people quickly threw their bids into the fray.

After a few minutes, two big-time bidders remained - Cutsforth and Steve Van Gordon of Team Van Gordon Auctioneers in Barlow - pushing the total ever higher until there was a winner at $450.

After Cutsforth won the auction and as he was walking toward the podium to cut the prized ponytail, Mikulec said, " I already forgive you, Frank!"

The two women also have made "Ponytail Roundup" posters and placed them in local beauty and hair salons.

The posters advertise for people willing to commit to growing their hair, and seek friends and family members who may also contribute to the cause.

"Our goal is to have 140 ponytails by June 1," said Mikulec, a Canby High School graduate. "I'm trying to spread awareness of how devastating it is for children to lose their hair, ahnd how difficult it is to go without hair in our society.

"We have been canvassing local salons for other people to have their hair cut, too," added Mikulec, who received a free post-chop haircut last Tuesday afternoon at Canby Hair Design.

In addition to harvesting 140 ponytails by June, they also hope to raise cash funds for Orlando, Fla.-based Locks of Love.

"That's 10 to 12 kids who are going to have their self-esteem back," Mikulec said.

Wiles is growing her brown hair, and plans to have it cut at the National Auctioneers Convention in Orlando in July.

"We plan on going beyond the Canby area," said Wiles, who is touring much of the country during her year as champion auctioneer. "We're going to try and get as much attention as we can for this."

State Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Canby, who was among the estimated 100 attendees of the chamber lunch, remarked: "This is the kind of community where people pay $450 for a ponytail, because this community cares."

For more information on the Ponytail Roundup, call Mikulec at (503) 824-3960.

For more information on Locks of Love, visit http://www.locksoflove.org.