Good hair day for a fundraiser

Published February 15, 2007

SPRING HILL - Hairdresser Brian Hammond's clients are loyal to him. In return, Hammond tries to go beyond loyal - to compassionate, supportive and giving.

That's the motivation for Sunday, when MGM Hair Studio, where Hammond works part-time, sponsors a cut-a-thon to benefit two brothers injured in a motorcycle and auto accident on Dec. 17.

Hammond, 56, has been cutting the hair of Zachary DeHaas, 31, and Joel DeHaas, 20, for years. Their dad, Jim DeHaas, started the tradition as a Hammond customer 12 years ago. A stepsister to the brothers, Kristian DeHaas, was a regular at the salon until she died of cancer last May at age 19.

After the motorcycle accident, Hammond approached the owner of MGM Hair Studio, in Kagel's Korner plaza at 4035 Mariner Blvd., asking Marie Galdorisi if he could organize a benefit to raise money for the family's substantial health care and travel costs.

Galdorisi, 58 and a beautician for more than 17 years, endorsed the project.

The salon has done three such benefits previously, she said.

While Jim and Zachary DeHaas have come under Hammond's scissors since the accident, Joel hasn't. He remains a patient at St. Joseph Hospital in Tampa.

Joel suffered several skull fractures, broken facial bones and nose, both shoulder blades, four ribs and collarbone, broken right hand and left foot and fractures to several cervical vertebrae.

He was wearing a helmet as he traveled on his 2000 Kawasaki Ninja east on Spring Hill Drive in the vicinity of Linden Drive about 8 p.m. Dec. 17. Zachary, also helmeted and driving a 2005 Suzuki 600, was behind Joel's machine and to his right.

They collided with an oncoming Geo Tracker, which was turning. No citations have been issued in the accident.

Zachary said, he saw the sport untility vehicle coming and laid down his bike, but not entirely out of harm's way. While Joel's machine hit the Tracker head-on, Zachary's hit obliquely.

Zachary suffered a dislocated right elbow and shoulder and torn ligaments and tendons in his right knee. He was treated at Spring Hill Regional Hospital and released while Joel was airlifted to St. Joseph's.

Not only did Joel collide with the other vehicle, he was thrown 30 feet through the air and suffered a second impact with the pavement.

The $10,000 of medical insurance coverage didn't cover a third of the cost of Joel's first surgery, his father, Jim, said.

"Any support we can get for this family is good. This is a real tragedy," said hairdresser Hammond.

Donna DeHaas, 36, mother to Joel and stepmother to Zachary, remains too distressed to hear talk of the accident, said her husband.

The whole family is employed at a designer window firm in Hudson. The sons had no health insurance, and although Joel has temporarily been accepted into Medicaid, it won't cover his medical needs.

The cut-a-thon, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, works this way: Walk-ins will receive a shampoo and cut for a donation to the DeHaas family. The regular price is $15, but any amount will be accepted, Hammond said.

Four hairdressers, two assistants and a receptionist are volunteering their time for the event, owner Galdorisi said. Even their tips will go to the family.

Also, Hammond has solicited gift certificates from area restaurants and supermarkets. They'll be raffled off, $1 a chance or three chances for $2.

Hammond went further. He's organized a concurrent bake sale to boost the fundraising. Donations will come from Dunkin' Donuts, where Joel formerly worked, and from others, including a hospice patient who has baked two big trays of cookies. She is a recipient of Hammond's largesse: He volunteers hair service at hospice two days a week.

"Helping one another in the community, that's what it's all about," he said. "We have to help thy neighbor."

Galdorisi concurred. "If you can depend on each other, that's what it's all about. Pay it forward," she added, quoting the film of that title. "We raise enough to give somebody some hope."

The salon's last cut-a-thon raised more than $3,000 for victims of Hurricane Katrina and resulted in three truckloads of clothes donated by salon clients.

Beth Gray can be contacted at graybethn@earthlink.net.

Fast Facts:

If you go

The cut-a-thon is from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday at MGM Hair Studio, 4035 Mariner Blvd. Walk-ins will receive a shampoo and cut for a donation to the DeHaas family. The regular price is $15 but any amount will be accepted. For information, call MGM Hair Studio at 688-1720.