July 13, 2007

Dayani staff lops locks for children

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Tracy Gatlin, right, does the honors as Kim Amsilli donates her hair during the Dayani Center’s recent event benefiting Locks of Love. (photo by Anne Rayner)

Dayani staff lops locks for children

Kim Amsilli shaves off longtime Dayani Center excercise physiologist Sam Ewing’s mustache.

Kim Amsilli shaves off longtime Dayani Center excercise physiologist Sam Ewing’s mustache.

Hair lengths at the Vanderbilt Kim Dayani Health Promotion Center are looking a little bit shorter these days.

On June 29 in the Dayani Center lobby, staff members Kim Amsilli, Jordan Bettes, Keri Freeman and Regina Tyree donated a combined 44 inches of hair to Locks of Love, a foundation that provides hairpieces for financially disadvantaged children with long-term hair loss.

Tracy Gatlin, of Tracy's Hair Studio on Music Row, volunteered her time to cut and style their hair, which the young women had been growing out since the event's inception in December.

“I just went around to all the other women with long hair in the clinic to see if they wanted to chop off their hair for a good cause,” said Bettes, a Dayani Center physical therapist.

Without hesitation, Amsilli, Freeman and Tyree joined in.

Though nervous on the big day, the group of friends — none of whom had donated to Locks of Love before — knew from the very beginning that giving up their long locks was something they wanted to do.

“It's pretty simple, but it's just something good to do,” said Amsilli, a patient services representative.

“[Those kids] are going to need it,” added Tyree, an exercise specialist. “We don't really need it. It'll grow back. Theirs may, or may not — who knows what they're going through.”

“It's a blessing to be able to do something for a child who doesn't have hair,” concluded Freeman, a physical therapist assistant.

Among laughter and smiles, the event was also for the Dayani Center members, staff and guests, who had the chance to vote on the foursome's new, short hairstyles.

Beyond their ponytails, a total of $245 in donations was collected for the Locks of Love foundation, a testament to the giving hearts of the four young women and how they impacted members and staff of the VUMC community.

“They're all very caring, passionate people,” said Jay Groves, administrative director of the Dayani Center.

“It's just the way they live. It's just who they are. They represent the best of the Vanderbilt credo. They are able to identify people who are worse off than they are and try to touch their lives and make a difference.”

In addition to the Locks of Love drive, Sam Ewing was honored on his last day at the Dayani Center. An exercise physiologist there for the past 17 years, Ewing left to join his wife in Sainte Genevieve, Mo.

Cake and punch for the members and guests and a luncheon for the staff recognized Ewing's contributions to the Dayani Center.

Even on his last day Ewing left a part of himself behind, allowing Amsilli, Bettes, Freeman and Tyree to shave off his mustache piece by piece.

It was just one more selfless act that made the day — and the Dayani Center family who made it possible — unforgettable.

“This'll be a special memory,” Tyree said.