SIDNEY — Sometimes, you don’t need a fancy dress, perfect make-up and a gorgeous head of hair to be beautiful.
Sometimes, when a loving soul shines through, that’s more than enough.
Monday, Nov. 13, at the Senior Center in Sidney, Jenise Exley’s beauty was so bright that Miss America would have been left in shadows. That’s the day the Sidney great-grandmother, surrounded by center members, staff and friends, became voluntarily bald to honor her great-grandson. That was also the day she presented $2,500 to the child’s family.
It all started several weeks ago. Exley, of Sidney, told her grandson, Patrick Craun, of Huber Heights, and his wife, Gina, that she planned to raise money for them. The Crauns’ oldest son, Cainan, 7, suffers from leukemia. Already in his young life, he has undergone a bone marrow transplant, T-cell treatments, brain surgery, physical therapy and radiation treatments. He is due to begin chemotherapy soon.
The family travels back and forth almost daily to Dayton or Cincinnati Children’s hospitals for weeks at a time.
Gina has used all of the leave she could take from her job as an art teacher in Beavercreek and Patrick is currently out of work, too, so the medical bills and living expenses have been piling up for them, Cainan and their younger son, Gideon, 5.
“I’m as healthy as can be,” Exley said. “And people are givers, but you have to ask.” She decided she would raise money to help her family and told them that if she got $1,000 in donations, she’d shave her head. Exley asked fellow Senior Center members for donations. She put canisters at five Sidney businesses. When Frisch’s donated 50 coupons for sandwiches and soft drinks, she sold them.
She will be at Sidney Foodtown, 1010 Wapakoneta Ave., Friday, Nov. 17, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., selling raffle tickets for items that friends have made or donated. The items are an Ohio State University block-O afghan made by Phyllis Cottrel, of Fort Loramie, an American flag afghan made by Barb Roddy, of Sidney, a Carson Palmer Bengals jersey, an Ohio State University silk tie and a free-standing American flag plaque. Raffle tickets cost $1 each or six for $5. Winners will be notified, Sunday.
She also opened a Paypal account to accept donations. It’s still active at paypal.me/jrxly. All — 100 percent, she stressed — of the money goes to the Crauns.
“A couple months ago, she had talked to some people, and it snowballed into something bigger,” Patrick said of his grandmother’s fundraising efforts.
On Monday, Exley counted out 10, $100 bills and gave them to Cainan, one at a time.
“That’s the thousand,” she said, and paused. “And there’s 15 more.” She tossed another 15, $100 bills onto the table.
“We weren’t expecting that at all,” Gina said.
Then, in the midst of about 25 friends, most of them donors, Exley kept her promise. John Dixon, of Sidney, picked up the scissors and electric head shaver as she took her seat on a tall chair atop a bright red tarp spread out to catch her rich brown hair as it fell.
“Do you know how much money I’m going to save on shampoo and conditioner and hair color?” Exley quipped.
So Dixon went to work and in no time at all, Cainan’s great-grandmother became the most beautiful lady in the room.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.