When Hailey Arthur, 36, owner of Pigtails & Crewcuts in Blakeney, heard the story of Ellie Potvin's battle with a rare pediatric cancer she felt inspired to help.
Ellie, 8, of Charlotte, has Stage 4 Rhabdomyosarcoma, and has suffered tumors in her pelvis, lungs and abdomen.
To raise awareness of Ellie's situation and raise money to help with medical expenses, Arthur and the staff of the kids' salon wear Ellie buttons and hosted a fundraising event. They are now selling locally made reversible headbands, designed to represent the personalities of both Ellie and her twin sister, Grace, with proceeds benefiting Ellie's medical fund.
Arthur first heard about the situation when her sister, who works for the same company as Ellie's father, told her about Ellie's CaringBridge website.
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"As a mom, I can imagine what they're going through. My husband and I have been through so much with our son, who has cerebral palsy, yet we hear stories like this and we count our blessings and realize how lucky we are,"said Arthur.
"At the same time, we know how powerful God is through what he's done with our son, and know that Ellie can get through this. Reading the site, you can't help but put yourself in Amy's (Ellie's mother) shoes and want to know what's next and what's happening."
When Arthur opened her shop in Blakeney in October, she shared Ellie's story with her stylists.
"It really touched them as well. It got to where day after day they would ask me, 'Did you get another update?' and we'd pull up her site here in the store."
"One of the stylists has a twin sister, so it really affected her, thinking of her sister. It became something we talked about on a daily basis, and we would pray for her and follow her," Arthur said. "Then we ordered the buttons to wear to help raise awareness and direct people to her site, in the hope that they might learn something from it or that they might be able to help financially or spiritually."
Arthur and her shop hosted a fundraiser last month to benefit Ellie. They donated a percentage of that Saturday's haircut sales and held a raffle. A local photographer donated a sitting, Smoothy King donated ten gift cards and SAS Cupcakes provided a large bin of candy.
The proceeds from raffle tickets went to Ellie's medical fund. The Lift Up Ellie headbands, designed and manufactured by Bella Tunno, were also sold at the event, with 100 percent of the sales going to the medical fund, as well.
"We had a number of different ways that people were able to help out. If they didn't need a haircut, they could come buy a raffle ticket or a headband," said Arthur. While the total is still being calculated, Arthur estimates nearly $1,000 was raised to help pay Ellie's medical bills.
Headbands are still available for purchase at Blakeney's Pigtails & Crewcuts for $8 each, and 100 percent of the sales will still go to the medical fund.
Michelle Buelow, founder and owner of Bella Tunno in Charlotte, originally contacted the store looking for an outlet to sell the Lift Up Ellie headbands the company had manufactured. Bella Tunno is a children's accessory company that has a history of donating a portion of sales to charity.
According to Buelow, each twin chose the fabric that would represent her personality. The pink camouflage side signifies Ellie's wild, experimental and adventurous spirit, while the colorful stripes represent Grace's sweet, subtle and conservative nature.
Arthur's shop has sold 78 of the headbands so far, and they also are available at www.bellatunno.com. Bella Tunno also has other headbands and head scarves for sale at Arthur's Pigtails & Crewcuts' store in Blakeney, with 50 percent of the proceeds from those purchased at the shop benefiting Ellie's medical fund.