Maple Falls man chops off 3-foot ponytail for charity

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDJune 19, 2014 

How much is 3 feet of hair worth?

Josh Corona set his price at $8,000.

For the past few years, Corona has told the Nooksack River Casino Relay for Life team that if they could raise $8,000 for charity, he'd cut off his knee-length hair and donate it.

Last year, the team came close, and he knew this would be the year that he would have to say goodbye to the silky dark locks that had become his trademark. With fundraisers every month - bake sales, garage sales, fry bread sales, you name it - the team reached the goal with time to spare before the July 11 Relay for Life of Whatcom County, a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.

On Wednesday, June 19, Corona readied himself to lose the hair that he'd spent 19 years growing out. His coworkers, friends and family gathered to watch the Maple Falls resident get his hair cut at the casino, where he works as a slot supervisor.

"It's going for a good cause," said Corona, who is donating the hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths, which uses the hair to create free wigs for cancer patients. "It's just hair. I can regrow it."

Corona, 34, made the choice to go long during a cutting mishap in the summer of 1995. He was getting his hair cut on the back porch when his brother ran into the person doing the cutting. The bump led to a shaved stripe on his scalp, and at that point the decision was made.

"I said, 'Shave it all; I'm never cutting it again,'" Corona recalled. "Low and behold, 19 years went by."

In that time, his hair grew and grew and took on a life of its own. Customers at the casino would rub it for luck, and women would always ask him how he kept it so healthy (simple: no blow-drying, no products. But he'll save a big chunk on shampoo and conditioner now that it's gone.)

His fiancee, Danielle Mann, would bug him about cutting it, and her daughter, Mataya, 10, would tease him for his long, ladylike tresses, but it grew on them, too. Mataya loved showing off Corona's long hair when he'd go with her on school field trips. He'd wrap it all around his head and stick his tongue out, pretending to be Bigfoot. It always gave the kids a laugh.

Mann said she'd been begging him to cut his hair for years, but when the time came for Mataya to take scissors to his strands, she found herself in tears. That hair was who he was.

"I'm really proud of him," Mann said. "It takes a lot for a human to give up something that's them. It was definitely a very emotional day."

It was emotional for Mataya, too. She gave Corona a long hug before she cut his ponytail off, struggling through three pairs of scissors as she sliced through his thick rope of hair.

"It made me want to cry," she said. "I've always known him with his hair. To see it go is kind of scary."

Corona held up the 3-foot-long ponytail after the cut, and then he ran his hands through his chin-length hair, feeling a small shock as the strands came to an end.

"That's going to be a feeling I'm not going to be used to for a long time," he said.

ABOUT THE RELAY

Relay for Life of Whatcom County starts at 6 p.m. Friday, July 11, in the area around Bellingham City Hall, 210 Lottie St. Teams walk through the night for the event, which raises money for the American Cancer Society. For more on the relay, go to relayforlife.org.

WATCH VIDEO

Reach Zoe Fraley at 360-756-2803 or zoe.fraley@bellinghamherald.com.

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