Sunday, April 29, 2012

There goes my hero

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There aren't many role models out there for young women. I fear that my daughters are going to grow up aspiring to be like...Ke$ha? Suri Cruise will be all grown up by then, maybe she will be a strong role model, you know, except for that whole Scientology thing. Luckily Twilight will have blown over by then so I won't have to worry about them acting as vapid as Bella Swan. The Jane Eyre's and Elizabeth Bennett's of the world have long since been replaced by Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato. Teenage girls don't seem inclined toward self sacrifice and good deeds anymore do they?

Enter Jolene Hayter.


I have had the privilege of knowing Jolene for a long time. I have been doing her hair for at least four years and in that time I have seen her grow from a sweet young girl into an articulate, well mannered young woman. She has been involved in many projects over the years, from weaving sleeping mats out of recycled grocery bags and distributing them to the homeless on East Hastings in Vancouver to performing as Cindy Lou Who in a high school production of How the Grinch Stole Christmas. This year I had the honor of seeing her crowned Queen Valvedette the 64th, the highest honor that can be conveyed to a teenage girl in our fair city. Though it all she has remained humble and gracious, never allowing he successes to go to her head.

Queen Valvedette the 64th, Jolene Hayter

I was pretty proud of her the day I saw her for the first time in her role as goodwill ambassador, her crown shining atop her sleek blonde updo and her sunny smile shining down on all the children gathered around her parade float. The little girls in the crowd were so excited to see a real princess in their midst and I was just as overcome. As proud as I was that day I have never been as proud of her as I was today, when she allowed me to help her cut off all those beautiful lengths of hair in support of a cause near and dear to her heart.

Jolene has a brother named Brandon. When he was only twelve years old he was badly burned by a spray paint can that unfortunately made its way into a bonfire. I heard his touching story today, along with that of burn survivor Lynda Fraser, at Hero Day, an event organized by his Jolene in support of the BC Firefighters Burn Fund. The Burn Fund helps the families of burn victims with expenses related to recovery, medical supplies and rehabilitation. It also funds a summer camp where children who are burn survivors can play and have fun with other children who have been in their shoes and are able to relate to them. I heard Brandon talk today about the way other children responded to him when he returned to school with his scars and his protective equipment, and how he felt so outside of "normal" school life. Then I heard him talk about how it felt to be among peers at a burn camp who knew what he had been through and could care less about his scars. It made me truly grateful to be able to help out in any way I could.

Jolene's Family. Her mom Ilona, brother Brandon, and  father Don

The goal of Hero Day was to show that being truly beautiful has nothing to do with the texture of your skin or how pretty your hair is...true beauty comes from within and the courage and spirit that these burn survivors show is a shining example of that beauty. There is a lesson for all of us in there. It is so easy to judge someone based on their appearance but if we take a second to listen to their story we may find ourselves looking at them in a whole new light. Jolene pledged to cut her hair off to a mere inch in order to raise funds and awareness. She thought that maybe by sacrificing her gorgeous hair and taking away some of her external beauty she could inspire others to look past the physical and appreciate the beauty within but her plan may have backfired. She looks even more beautiful now than she did before. I am so glad that there are still girls like her in this world for my daughters to look up to and I am proud to call her my hero.

My Hero
To donate to the burn fund click here:)

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