Tricia Cunningham, president of the Greater Mystic Chamber of Commerce, had a big weekend.
Friday night, she participated in the Groton Education Foundation's fundraiser, , ballroom dancing before an audience of hundreds with local attorney . On Saturday, she helped out three more charities, as her came to end with the snip of the scissors at .
Cunningham has not had a "real" haircut in more than five years, and late in 2011 she decided that it was time for a style change, and also a chance to do some good. But she wanted to take her charitable donation beyond simply giving the hair to an organization that makes wigs for children with cancer, so she issued a challenge to her friends and family.
"I am going to raise funds for two important organizations, Hospice Southeastern CT and the Terri Brodeur Breast Cancer Foundation," she wrote. "My goal is to raise $5,000."
On Saturday, when Cunningham arrived at Hair Unique for her 3 p.m., cut, she had two checks with her for and the - totaling $7,007.
Hospice Director of Community Development Jeffrey Nelson accepted a check for his agency for $3,863 and Claudia Marks, marketing director for the Terri Brodeur foundation, accepted a check for $3,144.
"We really rely on third-party fundraisers like this one," Nelson said. "These gifts out of the blue are really huge for us. It helps us fund programs we offer like bereavement care, which is not reimbursed through insurance or Medicare, but which we offer to anyone. Half of the people who use our bereavement care are not clients of Hospice."
Bereavement care includes individual and group counseling, including children's grief counseling, for anyone who has suffered a loss, Nelson said.
"This is a wonderful gift for us," he said of Cunningham's donation, "and it was an exciting and inspired way to do it. It was fun, and it was done on Facebook, and this is how social media is supposed to work."
Marks said those at the Terri Brodeur Foundation, , "are always amazed at what individuals and organizations do for us. Through . Tricia doing this brings us more money to give to breast cancer researchers to find a cure and new treatments."
A large crowd of friends and family gathered to watch Hair Unique stylist Eric Thomas separate Cuningham's hair into many little pony tails and then snip them off. Thomas said he has been cutting Cunningham's hair for eight years.
"I did not want to cut her hair, because I love her hair so much," he said after taking off about 17 inches all the way around. "But it is for such a good cause."