early 2005, Kim Becker was a beauty salon owner in Indiana, struggling
to find fulfillment in her work. She had remodeled her salon several
times, relocated to a new location, and completed additional training
in Miami, Chicago and London — all in an effort to fill both a
professional and personal void. Then, on a car ride home from
Indianapolis with her husband, an idea sprung in Becker’s mind.
"It just fell on my heart," she says. "I said, ‘We
need to have a mobile day spa that caters to cancer patients. Let’s
treat them like a queen during a time where they don’t feel very
special.’" Later that year, Hello Gorgeous! of Hope, Inc. was
The nonprofit organization now owns and
operates two mobile day spas, and Becker and her team also developed a
salon affiliate program, which trains salon staff on how to recreate
the Hello Gorgeous! experience. The program is now in 33 salons in
eight states, and each salon is encouraged to complete one makeover
per month. A typical makeover includes a pedicure, manicure, facial,
seated massage, makeup application and hair care (or hair
substitution). All services are complimentary, and the organization
insists that recipients be nominated by a friend or family member,
ensuring that the makeover is a complete surprise.
When Ann Saqr, vice president of marketing
at Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare, came across an online video about
Hello Gorgeous!, she picked up the phone and called Becker. The duo
began planning a makeover event at Wheaton’s St. Francis location.
The event was held on Oct. 4, and one recipient was Sonja Lind, who is
currently battling stage 4 small cell lung cancer. Lind was nominated
by her sister, Eunice Nowak. "At times her mind is consumed with
her illness," wrote Nowak in her nomination. "I think this
makeover would be wonderful for her, and it would take her mind off
that it did. "I felt fantastic," says Lind. "I was on
cloud nine for over a week!" Lind received the full Hello
Gorgeous! experience, including her first-ever pedicure. Her makeover
reveal was met with a standing ovation.
"When we learned about Hello Gorgeous!,
we thought the organization would be a perfect partner to help the
individuals we’re treating see more than a cancer patient when they
look in the mirror," says Saqr. "With a renewed sense of
self confidence, we want each woman to see the courageous, inspiring,
beautiful person she is." Currently, Wheaton is the first and
only local healthcare provider to have partnered with Hello Gorgeous!
"One of the biggest things we could’ve
never seen is the change these women make in us," Becker adds.
"They’re going through the battle of a lifetime, and we remind
them that they do deserve this." A battle that Lind courageously
intends to conquer. "I’m not going to let this (cancer) get
me," she says. "I’m going to fight it and beat it."