Sunday, July 19, 2009

Kutting for Kids 2009 - What an Awesome Event!

This year marks the 10th Anniversary of Kutting for Kids, an annual First Coast event started by Jeannie Blalock of First Coast News, as a drive to get donations for Locks of Love. The hair collected is crafted into custom wigs for children who do not have hair due to medical reasons. It takes six to ten donated ponytails to make just one hairpiece and each ponytail must be at least 10-inches long!

This year again, I had the incredible opportunity to photograph this amazing event at the Orange Park Mall. Seeing all the wonderful people who selflessly donate their beautiful locks. Last I heard, the total amount of hair collected was 7,004 INCHES! WOW!!! This year I was especially proud because my beautiful daughter also donated her hair, although she had it cut a few weeks ago because she wouldn't be in town this week. Her donation put the total over 7,000. Way to go Mikaela!!

A lot of people who donated last year brought back their spouses and children to donate this year! Next year, the last year crowd will be ready to donate again!

I captured over 450 smiles, tears, cuts, styles and expressions this year. These, along with those photographs from the other volunteer photographers, will be posted to the First Coast News website in a few days, as will the before and after shots! Until then, here are just a few I selected to share and a few short stories about some of these wonderful people!

First let's meet some of the beautiful children that these wigs may one day help!

Dorian is shown below with the wig that he already received!

And just a few of those who donated!
First is my little guy. He didn't donate his hair, but he was excited to turn in his sister's hair!

As soon as she saw her ponytail, she had an ear to ear smile. I think she was just a little bit nervous!

I had a blast watching this guy and his buddies. They all came in together and they all donated their hair. They were so funny as they all were taking photos of each other in multiple ponytails! In the second image, you can see the three buddies standing behind their friend whose turn it was to have his hair cut. And, yes, they even measured the one guy's beard - but it wasn't quite long enough! Way to go guys! You're awesome!

Isn't this little guy such a cutie! His mom said he was 4 years old and the stylist cut his hair as mom and his brother looked on. As soon as his first ponytail was cut, the stylist handed it to him and he kept saying over and over again with a HUGE grin, "This is my hair. That's MY hair. Look at my hair." :) What a cutie pie!

This little girl was definitely not sure about her new haircut!

This next three images are from the same family. Mom came out and brought her two daughters. Both the girls got their hair cut first, then when they were done, mom got hers cut. The stylist could sense that mom was a little nervous so she asked the girls to come hold mom's ponytail as she cut it. Mom's tears came right after the cut so I suggested to the girls each give mom a hug. They did and mom held them tight. Shortly after, I asked them to all get together for a family moment with their new "do's".

Mom brought this 3 year old little guy in to get his hair cut. Can you see how long it was? He wanted to have nothing to do with it and the tears were just flowing from his eyes. Poor little man. The stylist finally got his hair into a ponytail and started cutting as mom was keeping him still in the chair - although he was fighting it. After she snipped off the ponytail and showed it to him, he reached back to where his long locks were no longer and realized it was gone - he got quite upset.He then put both his hands on the back of his head and held them there to tell the stylist not to cut anymore. He was fine after a few minutes and the stylist was able to finish the styling. By the end of it all, he was trying to sneak a tiny little smile.

This gentleman was the very last cut of the day. Yeah, the guys look a little funny when they have their hair cut, but they're so proud and we're proud of them, too!

We had some amazingly talented musicians for everyone's listening enjoyment.

Everyone was also entertained by dancers from the Step by Step Dance Studio of Argyle. From little ones like the ones below to the big kids - they all did a fantastic job!

And, of course, the event couldn't be complete with out some extra special fun for the kids! Several clowns entertained the young ones with balloon animals and face painting!