A Little Girl, a Former Fire Chief and a Stylist to Celebrities Help Cancer Patients

Elliot (Elli) Madsen, 9, flashes a big smile as stylist Blair Leonard prepares to cut her hair for Locks of Love. Photo by Dee-Dee Madsen


By Carol A. Clark

Three kind-heartened individuals came together in White Rock this month for one simple purpose – to make others feel better.

Elliot (Elli) Madsen is nine years old. She is in Mrs. Mann’s 4th grade class at Chamisa Elementary School in White Rock.

“Elli decided to contribute to the Locks of Love Foundation all on her own, she is such a sweet kid,” her mother Dee-Dee Madsen said. “She learned of the organization in school.  Last year I told Elli that I wanted her to consider cutting her hair and she told me ‘No Mom, I cannot do that – I am giving my hair to the cancer kids – they lose their hair, too, you know.’”

Photo by Dee-Dee Madsen

Dee-Dee said that she was quite surprised to learn that Elli even knew about Locks of Love.

“I just suspected that other kids, maybe her friends at school, were doing this, too,” she said. “But come to find out, that was not the case at all. Elli made the decision alone. She did not advertise it, rather quietly sharing her decision with me several weeks after making it. Needless to say, I was and am very proud of my little girl.”

Photo by Dee-Dee Madsen

Locks of Love is a public non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to cancer patients.

Blair Leonard of White Rock is a freelance hair stylist and makeup artist to movie and television stars filming in northern New Mexico. She donates her services to people who choose to cut their hair for Locks of Love, including Elli.

“Locks of Love is a very important organization and I’m happy to donate my time and services to help,” Leonard said.

Earlier this month, retired Los Alamos Fire Chief Doug MacDonald came to her to have his 13-inch-long hair cut for Locks of Love.

“I decided to grow my hair for Locks of Love after seeing the change on my sister in laws face when she put on a wig and looked in the mirror,” MacDonald said. “She was battling cancer and I could see the confidence return to her face when she put on that wig.”

MacDonald said he had no idea what an impact a wig could have on a cancer patient who had lost her hair through chemo. He decided in that moment to grow his hair to donate to Locks of Love.

For Elli, the decision came when she and the students in her class at school read about cancer.

“We were reading about cancer and my teacher told us about Locks of Love,” Elli said. “I decided I wanted to donate my hair because I thought that kids should be able to keep their head warm and they should be able to have hair.”Elli Madsen with her new look. Photo by Dee-Dee Madsen


Elli’s mother describes her as “a very special little girl in so many ways.”

“I find it fitting for Elli to be in this situation because it truly displays the wonderfully compassionate girl she has grown to become,” Dee-Dee said. “Given Elli’s gift today, I ponder at all the possibilities yet to come for her and all of us who are blessed enough to know her.”


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