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Annual cut-a-thon to benefit autism, breast cancer groups

October 11, 2017
By MELISSA BILL ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

A Lehigh Acres beauty salon, joined by several other local barbers, is offering haircuts for donations this weekend to raise funds and awareness for autism and breast cancer.

Organized by Solstice by Rene, the cut-a-thon will take place Oct. 15 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Laugh-In Comedy Cafe, at 8595 College Parkway, Suite 270, Fort Myers. It will feature the hair cuts, along with food, music and fun, including an appearance by the SouthWest Florida RUFF Ryders.

More than 12 barbers will be on site, cutting for a $10 donation to benefit the two causes.

"We have local barbers from shops, including Cutting Edge (Barber Shop) and Da Shop - as well as a few from Fort Myers - including NextCut Barbershop," founder and organizer Rene Gaston said.

According to Gaston, autism is a cause that is near and dear to her heart.

"Nearly half of my clientele are autistic, so I have developed a deep connection with the community. They enjoy coming to my salon," she said.

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Gaston approached My Autism Connection and Partners for Breast Cancer Care with the idea of creating an event that would deliver a message and provide a fun day for the entire family.

"Rene actually came to us about doing the fundraiser event," Sandra Worth, founder and president of My Autism Connection, said. "It's a great opportunity for the public to learn about the services we provide."

Worth started the organization in 2012 with the mission of assisting individuals with Asperger's and high-functioning autism to build friendships through social interaction, while developing skills that inspire and promote independence and productivity.

Fact Box

If you go


Annual cut-a-thon


Oct. 15 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Laugh-In Comedy Cafe, 8595 College Parkway, Suite 270, Fort Myers


To benefit My Autism Connection and Partners for Breast Cancer Care


Haircuts for $10

"I have a 24-year-old that's on the high-functioning spectrum of autism, so I know some of the obstacles these individuals face sometimes," she said.

My Autism Connection fills in the necessary gaps for individuals by providing social activities, classes and recreational programs, including archery classes, social outings and the Driver's Challenge.

"We need more people to give people with autism and Asperger's a chance to work and feel like an important part of the community," Gaston said.

The fight against breast cancer also strikes a chord with Gaston.

"October is breast cancer month, and I wanted to showcase these women in our community that are doing so much for both men and women who can't afford to get services for breast health," she said.

Partners for Breast Cancer Care provides no-cost breast screening, diagnostic testing, surgery and treatment to low-income uninsured women and men, of any age. It covers a variety of services, including mammograms, ultrasounds, MRI guided biopsies, excisional breast biopsy, lumpectomy, mastectomy, radiation therapy and chemotherapy.

Once the theme for the fundraiser was created, Gaston looked for the right venue.

"We approached Laugh-In Comedy Cafe about the idea and they jumped on board," she said. "It's turning out to be a huge event. (The) Pink Heals fire truck will be there, the B103.9 morning show, plus we will be dunking for fees."

Other vendors attending include Unique Auto Spa, which is sending its specialty limos - Bumblebee and Megatron - and the tattoo shop Bloodlinz Ink, as well as reps for Mary Kay and Tupperware.

There will be clowns, face painting, balloon artists and complimentary gift baskets.

Snow cones and candy apples will be available for the children.

"A total of 30 vendors in all are expected to be at the event. My hosts for the event are Manny Gonzalez and Ashley Hartley, a dynamic entertainment team," Gaston said. "We also plan on having a silent auction during the day, plus Land Rover of Fort Myers will be donating a one-week lease on a new Jaguar."

Gaston hopes to raise at least $5,000 for the causes, but the day is really about awareness.

For more information, call 239-243-2075 or visit:

Solstice by Rene is at 5513 8th St. W.



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