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Ag agent grows hair for others

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By Stephen Thomas

  SHEPHERDSVILLE - Darold Akridge gave new meaning to the term “extension” agent.

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And when Akridge gets a wild hair, just try to stop him.

Akridge, a Bullitt County extension agent, let his hair grow for 18 months to make a donation toward Locks of Love, a non-profit organization that creates hairpieces for needy children dealing with hair loss due to medical reasons.

According to Akridge, the hair growth began when a local 4-H member said he would grow his hair and made a challenge.

“He obviously didn’t know how stubborn I am,” said Akridge. “The next time I saw him he had already cut his hair off, but I stayed with it.”

To further assist Locks of Love, Akridge issued a public challenge in November 2010 for other Bullitt Countians to grow their hair for the organization. A personal check of $100 was the grand prize for one of the lucky participants. Ten people signed up to participate.

Akridge thanked Oldham County farmer Jerry Bennett, a friend who could not grow his hair, but who pledged a second $100 prize check for a participant.

Winners were drawn during a special event hosted by the Extension Service to watch Selena Hicks, a stylist with Maryville Salon, remove Akridge’s locks.

Assisting Hicks was Akridge’s three-year-old granddaughter, Katelyn, referred to as Poogie-Pooh by her now-short-haired grandfather.

“I think her being there and being able to assist helped her to make the transition,” Akridge said. “The test will be with my three-year-old grandson, Anthony, when he sees me.”

When the cutting was done, Akridge officially donated seven pony tails to Locks of Love at a minimum length of 10 inches. At its longest, some of the hair measured 14 inches.

Among those in attendance for the big cut was Bullitt County Judge/Executive Melanie Roberts, who praised Akridge as a community-oriented individual.

“I commend Darold for wanting to help children with any type of cancer,” said Roberts. “It must be a bit of a challenge to let hair grow for such a length of time but for an excellent cause.”

Akridge said the support from co-workers and community members helped him through the situation through it’s ending.

“Especially locally, the ones I work with every day,” he said. “Plus those that were here to see it cut.”

Akridge publicly thanked his friend Scott Travis, a Spencer County farmer who came to watch on a busy day.

“In the midst of his harvest time he came to see me, and I appreciate that,” he said.

He also thanked the Kentucky Farm Bureau administration for their understanding and support of his actions over the 18 months.

Akridge admitted the hair growth was not easy to deal with, especially toward the end.

“It did present a lot of problems,” he said. “It was in the way when I was in the office, or working with equipment. When I’m driving I’ll check the rearview mirror and all I see is hair.”

Even 18 months time didn’t help Akridge get used to the mop on his head.

“It did give me empathy for ladies that wear their hair long,” he added.

Working with Extension agents throughout the state, Akridge said a few would occasionally not recognize him. At one State Farm banquet, where ladies were served first, he was almost served twice.

With his hair back to its original length, Akridge doubted that he would again participate by growing it. However, he plans to assist Locks of Love in another fashion, announcing another $100 contest through December 2012.

Anyone wishing to grow their hair and cut it as a donation to Locks of Love may contact Vickie Porter at the Bullitt County Extension Office, 543-2257, to sign up and qualify for the drawing.

Akridge will personally donate another $100 to a lucky volunteer. He said anyone currently growing their hair for the previous event were also eligible for the next one.

For more information on the Locks of Love program visit www.locksoflove.org.

“I think this organization offers a great community service,” Akridge said.