Clipping for a cause

Barbers at Atlas Barber Co. cut hair at their new location on Transit Street. On Sunday, they'll be doing it to fight breast cancer and donating all proceeds, including tips, to the Susan G. Komen group, the largest breast cancer organization worldwide. (Photograph by Benjamin Joe)

Exactly how many haircuts can one shop do between 10 a.m. Sunday and 10 a.m. Monday? Inspired by a 24-hour haircut challenge on YouTube, Atlas Barber Shop owner Jackson Elniskey said that the answer to that question remains to be seen.

What Elniskey does know is who will benefit from the stunt.

“I decided to turn it into a challenge, plus giving back,” Elniskey said. 

Elniskey decided to keep the lights on at his newly opened barber shop on Transit Street for 24 hours and donate all proceeds to Susan G. Komen, the biggest breast cancer organization in the world.

“My mom had it. She caught it pretty early,” he said. “My aunt went through stage four. … She went through the thick of it. She had the surgery, she lost her hair.”

So, no cash, no tips and a lot of energy drinks for 24-hours straight.

Surprisingly, Elniskey was able to convince his employees that this was the best way to spend their weekend. They were already on board.

“I’ve been working for Jackson for six months now, and I’ve been a barber for 20 (years),” Anthony Rosario said. “This is a good thing. It’s good to help other people.”

“My mother got cancer. It’s not breast cancer, but she got chemo a couple years ago and now it’s clean,” he continued. “She’s a survivor.”

Susan G. Komen, the organization that is getting the haircut money, stands apart from many like it by taking part not only in advocacy and awareness, but also in the research and getting access for testing and mammograms.

“We’re the only one that does it all,” Sean Tuffnell, spokesman for Susan G. Komen, said.

Tuffnell said that the group has, “a three-pronged approach to fight the disease.”

“We provide the breast cancer community with a voice when it comes to advocacy,” he said. “We advocate for funding and removal of barriers at all levels of government. We invest and made since our founding the largest investment to breast cancer research outside the federal government.”

The third prong that the organization provides is access to a number of breast cancer care and support services. Those can be accessed by calling their help line at 1-877-465-6636 (1-877 GO KOMEN), which is manned with trained social workers that can help with information on local resources and provide emotional support.

Back at the barber shop, located on South Transit Street, Elniskey talked a little more about how breast cancer brushed against his life and the lives of his family, as well as the story of his life that has given him the opportunity to give back.

“We didn’t even really know that she had it until we were older,” he said, speaking of his mother. “Then we’d go to ‘Relay for Life’ and stuff, and she’d wear a survivor shirt.”

“We were like, ‘Mom, you’re wearing the wrong shirt! You are not …’ but she said, ‘Yeah, I am.’ That was when it started out. … She broke it down to what insurances would cover, cost of treatments. It’s expensive, but she could only do what she could do.”

Elniskey also has had an exciting life. The father of three and a former National Guardsman, Elniskey decided to go to barber school to eek out a living.

“What happened was, I had no money and when I was going to barber school I’d just stay in the truck, so I didn’t have to worry about paying rent” he said, noting his wife and children were living at a relative’s house in another state.

“This is my way of appreciation,” he said. “I feel like it’s a small token to pay. Twenty-four hours is nothing when they’re battling it every day for 10-15 years sometimes. I just felt it was good to mesh the two, the challenge and the fundraiser.”

Atlas Barber Shop is on 5748 South Transit St. They’ll be open 10 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 17 to 10 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 18 and all haircuts between those times will be donated to Susan G. Komen.

Trending Video

Recommended for you