October 04, 2006

Hair Today, Cure Tomorrow?

Elaine Hayes estimates she's raised $50,000 so far. Since October of 2003, her salon Special Effects Hair Salon in East Hampton has been the venue for a unique fundraising effort — some might even call it a hair-raising effort. To garner funds to fight breast cancer, Special Effects hosts an annual "Cut-A-Thon." Hayes and her staff devote a day to beauty and themselves to volunteerism, donating all proceeds from the day — even tips — to Breast Cancer Help, Inc.

Hayes started what's become an annual event in 2003 to honor her beloved sister-in-law Sally Schuerlein, who tragically succumbed to breast cancer. The first event was a smash and each ensuing year support grows. "Our merchants have been amazing," Hayes said this week. "Our community is so generous. We really are lucky." Nearly every bare space on the salon wall boasts a pink ribbon and the name of local companies that have donated raffle prizes. Prizes range from special weekend stays at a local inn to free fuel fill-ups. The drawing will be held Sunday as the months-long fundraising endeavor culminates.

Dressed in signature pink T-shirts, volunteers will hawk raffle tickets outside the salon, offering light refreshments as well. Inside, stylists will provide a gamut of beauty services, with every penny going to the Long Island-based Breast Cancer Help, Inc.

Hayes has an affinity for the non-profit organization because every dime collected by the group goes towards helping women right here on Long Island. The group focuses on action and advocacy, promoting education and awareness of breast cancer issues. BCH has helped ensure that women and men have access to the best possible medical care.

Since its inception in 1994, BCH has participated in and launched breast cancer mapping, studies and a state registry. It spearheaded the move to create a special help line at Stony Brook University Hospital, and was at the forefront of a campaign to create the Breast Cancer Awareness Stamp. Proceeds from every sale are donated to fund research.

Breast Cancer Help, Inc. has provided further support of research, finding funds for the purchase or lease of diagnostic equipment such as a digital mammography system for Stony Brook, a special MRI reader for the Long Island Cancer Center at Stony Brook, and a laser-scanning microscope for the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. In March of 2003 BCH opened the Long Island Cancer Help & Wellness Center in Lindenhurst. This year the center expanded and relocated to North Shore LIJ Southside Hospital.

In an interview for BCH's fall publication, Hayes spoke of why she and her staff are willing to sacrifice their day off this week, come in and work and donate everything. "Over the years, many of our customers have faced this dreaded disease. We are holding this campaign and Cut-A-Thon in their memory."

On Sunday, walk-ins will be welcomed on a first come, first served basis. To make an appointment, call Special Effects at 324-5996.

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