HUNTINGTON BEACH A small crowd gathered this morning to watch Corinne Neal chop off about 15 inches of her silver locks at HB Beauty Supply and Salon.
The 68-year-old retired school teacher held up ponytails of her lopped-off gray-white hair and, with tears in her eyes, yelled, "Woo-Hoo!"
"It is empowering, I guess, to know that it has all come together," Neal said, her voice shaking. "That prayers have been answered and we're getting this started."
Neal plans to use her hair to begin a campaign to raise money and collect more gray hair to create a wig for a 68-year-old woman at her church who recently lost her hair to cancer. She said a handful of friends have already contacted her, saying they are beginning to grow their hair to help make the wig.
A cancer survivor herself, Neal had originally wanted to donate her hair to Locks of Love but was told the hair-donation organization provides wigs for children and does not accept gray hair. Calling that "discrimination against the Grannies and Grandpas,'' she has struck out on her own to provide a gray wig for her friend.
To make the headpiece, Neal needs about three times the amount of hair she cut today and about $3,000 to have a wig made at World of Wigs in Santa Ana. When the wig is done, Neal plans to surprise her friend with it.
That's just the beginning, she said. She hopes her campaign will lead to more awareness and efforts to provide gray wigs for seniors.
About a dozen members of Neal's Red Hat Society group – a team of woman 50 years and older who band together to socialize — came to the hair cutting.
Stylist and fellow Red Hat member Pam Espinosa cut Neal's hair to match Spice Girl Victoria Beckham's bob while friends sat behind Neal to watch.
"I think it is a wonderful idea," said Red Hat member Lovanna Powell, who lives in Riverside. "There are a lot of older people that need hair just like young ones."