As Nikki Diana sat in the salon chair at Hidden Oasis Spa & Salon, she watched the clippings fall to the floor, hoping stylist Sita Soda would go easy with the scissors.
"All I want is an inch off," the 9-year-old said.
Nikki's mother, Kim Diana, brought Nikki and younger sister Kristina to the salon to take part in "Hope Cuts," a fund-raiser to benefit breast cancer, pediatric cancers, HIV/AIDS and other life-threatening illnesses. Nikki was trying to grow her hair long, like an 11-year-old friend of her big sister's. The girls' aunt is battling breast cancer, so Kim Diana was glad to help out.
Kim Winston looked at the benefit and the reduced rates as a good chance to treat a friend, Sharon Randolph.
"We're getting manicures," Winston said.
HopeCuts is an effort by the City of Hope National Medical Center and Beckman Research Institute in Los Angeles. According to their literature, both organizations are known for their treatment and research efforts in combating life-threatening illnesses. Many of the leading treatments used in medical centers world-wide were pioneered at City of Hope.
Participating salons included one in Maryland, three in North Carolina, 14 in New Jersey, and three in Virginia. The other two salons participating in Sunday's fund-raiser are located in Winchester and Manassas.
The cause hit home for Doug Webster, manager at Hidden Oasis Spa & Salon in Fairfax Station. He wanted to help out when he heard about the program, which was put on by Goldwell Mid-Atlantic HopeCuts. A few spas along the East Coast are part of the effort. Webster is a cancer survivor.
"I just had surgery less than two months ago," Webster said. "I think what made me more aware of it was when my mother died of pancreatic cancer."
On Sunday, Nov. 30, all money raised at the salon, from haircuts to tips, was going toward the cause. The salon is normally not open on Sunday, but just about every hair stylist, manicurist and even the massage therapist came out for the effort.
"They had to make room in their schedule," Webster said.
Nickie Clark, Hidden Oasis' massage therapist, had no problem making room in her schedule.
"If I wasn't doing this, I'd be home watching football," Clark said. "This is definitely the better end of the deal."
Hidden Oasis employs three pairs of sisters. The pairs include sisters Sita Soda and Connie Webster, along with Meredith and Allison Dauksz, and Kathy Aragon and Dawn Webster.
"We are completely booked today," said Aragon, who manned the front desk on Sunday.
Kathleen Keul of Herndon works at Hidden Oasis. In addition to being a hair stylist, she's an activist for other causes. She spent two weeks in Romania with KidsSave working in an orphanage.
"Any little bit helps. Not a lot of people have time to do this," she said.
Keul told her clients about the benefit all week. One lady returned to get another haircut, even though she just got her hair cut two weeks ago.
"They wanted to give to the cause," Keul said.
Hope Norton was in getting her hair layered. She heard about the fund-raiser while she was in the salon with her husband on the previous weekend.
"They look a lot better," Norton said of her layers. "I needed something different."
Webster estimated that the Hidden Oasis raised about $1,000 on Sunday afternoon.