By Carmel Hayes
TWO hairdressers and a friend are ready for a breathtaking 10,000 foot parachute jump for charity.
Darren Farrell, owner of The Hair House in Rathdowney, will take the plunge on September 26 with stylist Laura and her friend Larina, to benefit Laois Offaly Families For Autism (LOFFA).
Darren set up the “Jump for LOFFA” fundraiser with a goal of € 2,000 and had already raised more than € 1,600 on Sunday August 22.
A hairdresser for almost 16 years, Darren says, “I have a lot of children and young adults who are on the spectrum and seeing firsthand what LOFFA is doing for these families is just amazing. I have been looking after these clients since I opened almost four years ago.
“Talking to parents who have children on the spectrum really made me want to help this organization. For me, it is for the child or the young adult to know me and to have the child comfortable in the living room, so I have sensory toys for when they have their hair done, because it is is a calming measure for some.
“I had coloring books, crayons, and other toys if they preferred them. I have also introduced time slots, if a parent is worried about coming with the child or young adult, so that they can be there alone and have some quiet time while having their hair done.
Laura has been a hairdresser for 12 years, caring for young adults and children on the spectrum. She loves to see them smile when they leave the salon after a haircut and styling.
Laura also studied to become a Special Needs Assistant (SNA) and is passionate about helping young adults and children with autism, to guide them to a better and healthier future. When the time comes, she hopes to work as a full time SNA and do what she is passionate about to change the lives of many people.
The charity is also very dear to Larina, as her five-year-old son Adam has been diagnosed with autism.
She says, “We live with ups and downs and great love at the end of the day and LOFFA is always on the phone, for information or just to chat. Not to mention their system of subsidies to offset the price of private therapy. This is major support for single families. With organized social outings for children and adults, LOFFA goes above and beyond to help families in any way possible.
The parent-run volunteer support group helps members in a number of ways, such as social outings, monthly meetings, morning coffees, and grant programs to offset the cost of private therapy.
The non-profit organization, which is a registered charity, receives no funding and is entirely dependent on public donations.
People can support fundraising on the Jump for LOFFA gofundme page.