Hair today, gone…..


For a great cause

by Tyler McAvoy (’13), Be the Change intern

Mike Mirello (’09), one of our Be the Change designees and the guy in charge of all the great photos of JMU on the web and in Madison magazine had a scary experience last June welcoming his son, Max, into the world. Max was born with a laryngeal cleft, a slight gap between the esophagus and the trachea that caused him to choke every time he was fed. Max was quickly rushed off to University of Virginia’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and quickly went through a painstaking process to figure out what was wrong.

“For a week of our life, we were in shock mode,” says Mike, who heads the University Marketing and Photography Department.

After a series of tests and a slew of possible diagnoses, doctors performed a short surgery on Max’s cleft and he was good as new. For a lot of people, the story would end here. They’d breathe a sigh of relief, head home and live the rest of their lives without a backwards glance.

For Mike though, he wanted to give back.

“The staff at NICU are these crazily intelligent people,” says Mike. “They have this ability to be around people at these crazy times in their lives. We witnessed people in very difficult situations. It was rough.”

Mike decided to give back, not just to the staff at NICU, but also the families of NICU patients.

“It’s very expensive to be there and we wanted to ease the travel burden for the families there,” Mike says.

Mike began taking donations from the staff at JMU, including the Marketing and Communications office, to buy $25 gas cards for every family with a child undergoing treatment at NICU and some goodies for the staff at the NICU. Mike wanted to get the gifts out around Christmas time, so he had some work to do.






To raise awareness and encourage donations, Chris Myers (’11), JMU’s chief videographer, offered to have his “Justin Bieber” haircut shaved if Mike and friends met a goal of $500. Assistant university photographer, Katie Landis, volunteered to do the deed.

And guess what?  We have one less “Bielieber” on campus and a bunch of happy families and staff members at UVA’s NICU.

Mike expressed interest in doing something similar next year, so expect more creative awareness campaigns to come out of the creative minds of Madison communications next year.

And one more thing!

Chris isn’t the only Duke losing locks for a good cause. Alumna Alissa McLaughlin (’01), a communication studies graduate and event planner in Philadelphia, gave up a foot of her curly red hair last week for Locks of Love, an organization that provides hairpieces for underprivileged children suffering from hair loss due to a medical condition or treatment.

Kudos to Mike, Chris, Katie, Alissa and everyone who donated!

This is not Mike‘s first foray into helping hospital patients. Check out his profile on our Be the Change wall or click the embedded link. And stay tuned; you will be hearing more about Alissa and how she is giving back to the children of Philadelphia. 

About James Madison University
This blog is about the people of James Madison University — a caring, committed and engaged community spread all over the world, making lives better and brighter, healthier and safer, kinder and bolder. As Gandhi suggested, we are taking steps to BE the CHANGE we wish to see in the world. And these are our stories....

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