“Hello Gorgeous!” cried out the crowd of ladies gathered at Fix Salon and Spa in Elkhart on Wednesday, May 21. Deb Buras, the Invoicing/Production Records Coordinator at ADEC Industries, stepped back in surprise, not sure if the crowd was really welcoming her. Ann Yoder, Production Manager at AI, took her arm and ushered her into the salon.

Ivy Crockett, Group Leader at AI, took video as the representatives from Hello Gorgeous! introduced themselves to Deb, who is currently battling breast cancer, and informed her that she had been nominated by Ivy for a relaxing makeover and spa day.

Hello Gorgeous! of HOPE, Inc. is a nonprofit based out of South Bend that, according to their website, “provides complimentary, professional makeovers and cosmetic education to all women battling all cancers. We create an experience for these women beginning with a nomination by family and friends that if chosen, includes surprising her with flowers, chocolates and a big ‘Hello Gorgeous!’” Currently, they have 25 affiliate locations in the United States.

Ivy’s grandfather struggled with a diagnosis of stage four lung cancer and recently passed away. She knew the toll the diagnosis and treatment took on her own family. When Deb received her diagnosis and began treatment, Ivy felt led to do something for her.

While getting a haircut at Fix, Ivy’s stylist told her about the salon’s involvement with Hello Gorgeous! and how meaningful it had been for them. Ivy immediately thought of Deb and wrote a nomination for her on the Hello Gorgeous! website:

Deb is a co-worker of mine at ADEC where we serve people of all ages who experience developmental disabilities and delays as well as visual and physical impairments. She has been employed with ADEC for 21 years and I have had the pleasure of working with her now for almost two years. We recently just learned she was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. I can’t even imagine how scared she must of felt. As co-workers/friends we were definitely on an emotional rollercoaster. It’s difficult when you’re not sure how to be supportive without being over-powering or offensive. I know a day of pampering would help uplift her spirits. She dedicates herself to those around her daily, so it would be nice to do the same for her in return. It would be a blessing to give her a gift that helps outweigh the negative, at least for a moment! Her fight to keep pushing on and never give up hope is inspirational. I think she is amazing! I know only she can fight the cancer, but I want to show her that she has a circle of friends that are here to embrace her on this journey.

The nomination and planning process took about a month, during which time Ivy and Ann worked together to ensure Deb’s surprise on the big day.

In Deb’s words, “It was amazing. A very emotional day. My supervisor [Ann] told me we were going to a computer training class. The salon was nearby and we had both been to the salon, so I thought we were just popping in to say hello.”

Fix shut down for the morning to pamper Deb. They presented her with cupcakes and flowers, and she enjoyed a facial, pedicure, manicure, makeup and a new custom wig. “The pedicure really made me feel good,” Deb remembered.

Afterward, Ann said they had been approved to go out to lunch before returning to work, so they drove over to McCarthy’s for a quiet lunch. Deb walked in to find her family, friends and coworkers calling out “Hello Gorgeous!” After a fun lunch, Deb and Ann drove back to AI where Ivy had assembled all of the clients and staff to welcome her back with a big “Hello Gorgeous!” The morning had been spent making posters and excitedly talking about Deb’s makeover.

“This is what you would want people to do for you,” Ivy shared. “It’s amazing how something so little to you can be so big to others. But her spirits were definitely lifted. There was a change. Everyone who works here knows.”

Deb Buras looking gorgeous after her makeover.

Deb Buras looking gorgeous after her makeover.

Deb’s journey has felt like an “uphill battle,” but she’s happy to be coasting downhill now. She has completed the most difficult round of chemo and now has “more good days than bad” as she undergoes radiation and a lighter round of chemo. “I want people to know [about my diagnosis] because I need the support,” Deb confided. “That helps me. I can’t imagine going through it alone. Cards, prayers, support—that helps me.”

After the special makeover day, Ivy created a scrapbook for Deb with pictures from the makeover and messages from clients and staff at AI. Nancy Woods, a Group Leader at AI, ordered canvas prints of the makeover to give to Deb and to the salon.