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Marks her Valentine’s Day birthday by shedding hair for Park Lawn

mom and angel photo 2 21

Photo by Joe Boyle

Gerry Schmude laughs as she cuts her daughter’s hair, Jessica Scannell, with assistance from Jessica’s aunt, Angel Uzzardo (right). Scannell had most of her hair shaved to mark her 30th birthday with donations going to Park Lawn and the removed hair for the Children With Hair Loss organization.

By Joe Boyle

It is somehow fitting that Jessica Scannell was born on Valentine’s Day.

While thinking about how to celebrate her 30th birthday, Scannell came up with a different idea.

“I was thinking about it for a while,” Scannell said. “I thought, wow, I’m going to be 30. I was driving along one day and began thinking what I could do to celebrate my 30th birthday. I thought about helping out an organization. I then thought about Park Lawn. I wanted to do something for Park Lawn.”

Scannell’s thoughts were drawn to her aunt, Angel Uzzardo, who is a participant at Park Lawn Services in Oak Lawn. Scannell and members of her large immediate family have a special place in their hearts for Aunt Angel, who despite developmental disabilities has been an active participant at Park Lawn and greets everyone with a smile and a contagious laugh.

With Aunt Angel in mind, Scannell created a GoFundMe page for Park Lawn with the goal of raising $3,000 by her Feb. 14 birthday. If she achieved that goal, Scannell said she would shave her head.

Not only did she reach her goal, she exceeded that margin. According to Mark Dynia, the marketing manager for Park Lawn, as of late last Thursday, she collected $3,290.

Along with the donation to Park Lawn, which is a non-profit organization offering a variety of programs and services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, Scannell also wanted to donate her shaved hair for Children with Hair Loss, which is based in Michigan. Scannell chose the organization to help assist her second- cousin, who has alopecia, which can cause spot balding.

“It’s just amazing how everyone donated,” Scannell said. “When it started out I didn’t know what to think. Then it really started to grow.”

Scannell was joined by her husband, Pat. The couple has two children: son, Cillian, 3, and daughter, Loreli, 9 months. They were also on hand, along with nieces and nephews, cousins, and Scannell’s parents, Raymond and Gerry Schmude, of Worth. Grandparents Anthony and Gerry Uzzardo were also present.

“We’re just really proud of her,” said Gerry Schmude. “She has always been a caring person and her birthday on Valentine’s Day make sense. She has a great heart and cares for others.”

The idea of having her head shaved was with her Aunt Angel in mind, who enjoys cutting hair. And her aunt took part in helping out, with assistance from Gerry Schmude, who is a hair stylist.

“My Aunt Angel is obsessed with cutting hair and bald heads,” said Scannell, who grew up in Worth and attended Worthwoods Elementary School and Worth Junior High School. She is also a graduate of Stagg High School.

Scannell’s aunt has been a participant at Park Lawn since the age of 3, Scannell said. She then took part in the special education program all four years at Stagg High School. She then returned to Park Lawn.

“I really love her,” Scannell said about her aunt. “She makes me laugh. She is such a riot.”

“So many people have helped out,” Scannell added. “People from Pat’s work also donated. I wanted to help out and my Aunt Angel was excited.”

Scannell recalled that her aunt had her hair cut short during an event a few years ago at Worth Junior High School through a club that was affiliated with the St. Baldrick’s organization.

The Children’s With Hair Loss organization allows for eight inches and over of hair to be cut. Scannell had nine inches of hair. The organization also allows for color-treated hair to be cut. Many organizations require at least 12 inches of hair to be removed.

After her aunt and mother cut her hair, Scannell was presented with a mirror that gave her a big laugh, especially when her daughter did not immediately recognize her.

“This is the kind of person she is,” said her father. “She has been like this since she was a young girl in school. She is our Valentine’s birthday girl and she is like Cupid. She just gives out love. She is just a great person.”

The event had a party atmosphere before and after her hair was cut. Scannell thanked everyone for their support verbally and in sign language. She graduated from Columbia College with an American Sign Language certificate.

Scannell is now concentrating on raising her two children. She has previously been employed at the Joliet Transition Center and the Chicago Autism Academy.

“I have a special place in my heart for Park Lawn,” Scannell said. “I feel really blessed. This is the greatest birthday ever.”

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