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Local salons enlist in drive to help cancer victims become survivors

An army in the war against breast cancer, more than 80 salon stylists have joined forces to raise support for local cancer victims.

By C.J. MCMANUS
Sun Advocate reporter

Anyone who watched any football this weekend knows that pink is the color of October as October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. From the Carbon High team's pink ankle wraps to pro players with pink mouth guards, even the biggest and burliest of men donned the bright hue to show their support for the fight against a very deadly disease.

Pink draws attention on a football field because it's out of place. In a salon however, the color pink is right at home - home with the women who fight breast cancer on the front lines. To draw attention and raise money locally, 14 salons and over 80 stylists, whose clients deal with the very real prospect of the big C every day, will come together every Tuesday this month to ensure that local women get a local hand up when it comes to the fight against cancer.

"To tell you the truth, the whole idea came about because the girls in our salon, which has a dress code, wanted to have a casual workday," explained Alicia Marrelli, owner and stylist at Bellasano Salon and Spa in Price. "I told them if they could come up with a fundraiser, we would order t-shirts and wear jeans and have a 'casual for a cause' event. Last year in September the idea came around again and we decided to support breast cancer awareness."

According to Marrelli, during October of last year, Bellasano Salon and Spa put aside 20 percent of their business every Tuesday for donation. The idea caught fire and the single salon fundraiser was quite successful.

"Thing went so well last year," said Marrelli. "We got our t-shirts and we had our fundraiser and there was a great amount of participation. That got us thinking, we're a salon, the majority of our clients are women and we would like to do everything we can to help the women in our community."

Last year, Bellasano donated the funds they raised to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, a national cancer research and education organization which promotes new treatments and the search for a cure. And while the group was happy with how the event as a whole went, Marrelli and the rest of her staff became concerned about the local impact their funds could be making.

"I found out that there wasn't any Komen funding in our area and I was a little disappointed but the event was still for a good cause. This next year we wanted the money to stay local, so I said lets go huge, lets ask all the other salons to join in, do the same thing with all the other salons and keep everything local." said the Bellasano owner.

At that point, those involved with the project decided to partner with the United Way in order to have a fiscal agent and keep all funds raised in the Castle Valley. The formal name for the project is now "Salons for Survival at United Way." A committee will now oversee the disbursement of the funds from the United Way's offices. That committee will be comprised of one United Way board member and three from salons.

The committee has plans to focus the bulk of their donations on funding for mammograms.

"We really want to focus on prevention," explained Marrelli. "A person is supposed to start getting mammograms every year at age 40 and for whatever reason, the test gets put off in many cases. Sometimes those reasons are fiscal. Our program is going to be for working people with or without insurance. There are so many people who do have insurance who still can't afford all the extra expense."

According to Marrelli, a percentage will be put aside to help pay for mammograms, a percentage will be used to help with co-pay and deductible costs and a third percentage will fund actual treatment. Patient applications will be reviewed by the four member board at United Way and from that point, funding will be disbursed.

"We hope to keep the criteria small in order to apply for this money," said the Bellasano owner. "We don't want to raise this money and then hide it away. It is our hope to have the funds readily available for local women who need it."

Donation to the project is easy for anyone who needs a little taken off the top or just an excuse for that next pedicure. Any money garnered by the 14 participating salons on any Tuesday in October with become part of 'Salons for Survival.' Those interested in participating can contact their regular salon or call Bellasano for more information. In addition to the 20 percent Tuesday donation, every individual business involved will be conducting side events to help raise money.

For their part, the United Way will be taking in funds from their "cornerstone" organizations here in the Castle Valley to help the salons. Cornerstone businesses allow employees to donate a portion of their paycheck directly to a charity of their choosing with a 100 percent match coming from the company for every donation. Salons for Survival is now one of the "cornerstone" charities.

To kick the event off, USU Eastern's cosmetology department will be holding a bake sale on Oct. 11 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

"The community and all of the other salons involved have stepped up so big," concluded Marrelli. "We have so many prizes to give away, businesses have been so generous and all of the other salons and girls involved have given a ton to this project. I think a lot of that supports comes from the effect that this disease has had on our whole community. So many women come into the salon with their stories of tribulations and their tales of hope. It is inspiring to listen to and I am so grateful to be part of this project."




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