By JULIE MARIE BUSH
OBSERVER Staff Writer
Dunkirk mother Maria Castellano was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1996 at the young age of 33 and went on to successfully defeat it. Her daughters, Merari Tirado, Melissa Perez and Marangelly Perez couldn't have been happier. Then, six months ago, she was diagnosed again - this time with malignant ovarian cancer.
OBSERVER Photo by Julie Bush
Eimileidy (Burgos) Dimmer took the opportunity to give back this Christmas.
Merari, her husband Jonathan and sons Jonathan Jr., 12, and Hector, 5, were in getting their hair cut at Visions of Elegance in Fredonia in the weeks before Christmas. Their longtime hairstylist Eimileidy (Burgos) Dimmer has been the family's beautician since Jonathan Jr. was just a baby. During their conversation, Merari told Dimmer about her mother being diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
"The first thing I thought was oh my God, she is going through all this," Dimmer said.
She, too, could understand and sympathize with what their family was going through after her own experience of losing two aunts to cancer. She now has friends whose parents are also battling this disease.
After Dimmer finished all four haircuts, totaling $50, the Tirado family walked up to pay her for the services and received quite a surprise.
"No, keep it and use it for your trips to Buffalo and what you need for your mom," Dimmer said. "That's more important."
Merari's response was, "Oh, my gosh."
"I started crying and my husband and I gave her a hug," Merari said. "It was really nice because my whole family got a free haircut. It's $15 for adults and $10 for kids. So it was $50 worth of haircuts. I've never had a free haircut before."
When Merari told her mother, Maria Castellano, what a caring heart their hairstylist had, "She was moved. She said we have to do something for her, send her flowers or something. She wants to give them to her for doing that. She was really appreciative. We really don't know anybody that would do something like that for us. When it's not a family member or a really close friend - just somebody who cuts our family's hair."
Cutting hair is definitely a family affair for Dimmer's family. Her father who goes by the same of "Jussie" has his own barbershop in Dunkirk. Her mother used to cut hair as well.
The Tirado family has been a client of Dimmer's since her first start in the haircutting business when she worked at Famous Hair. After gaining experience and clients, she worked at Medusa's and since June of this year, she works at Visions of Elegance in Fredonia.
"They have been really good clients of mine for all these years," Dimmer said with a smile. "I am so happy to have them as customers. I appreciate their business. They have allowed me to get this far and I wanted to help them too. My parents have always taught me to help others. I was raised Christian and that God wants us to help people. That's how I see it. I wasn't even planning on doing it. It just happened."
The Tirado family was so moved by her generosity that they are giving back to the community by helping a less fortunate Dunkirk family this Christmas.
"We are going to help out a family that we just started talking to that has a lot of kids and we know could use some help," Merari said. "We are going to fill stockings and give them to them."
Kindness is the gift that keeps on giving.
Send comments on this story to email@example.com