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Ooh La La ... Pat Larson and Chrissi Linker

PRINCETON — Two Bureau County women will enjoy the Christmas season with a new look, thanks to Ooh La La Salon and Spa in Princeton.

Cheri Swanson, owner of Ooh La La, said she ran a make-over contest on the salon’s Facebook page asking for nominations for deserving people to receive a holiday hair cut, coloring and make-up session — all compliments of the salon staff. More than 15 nominations were received. A panel of three people, outside the salon staff, read the nominations and then selected two lucky recipients.

The staff decided to do the holiday makeover because of some tough experiences the salon had experienced during the past year, including a fire, and the great support the salon received from the community, Swanson said.

“The holiday makeover was our way to say thanks to the community for everything it has done for us. This is our way of paying it forward,” she said.

Originally, the idea for the holiday makeover was to select only one winner, but the response and the stories were so great, two winners were chosen. The two recipients, Pat Larson of Manlius and Chrissi Linker of Dover, had special stories which touched their hearts, she said.

Fourteen years ago, Larson’s son, John, was critically injured in a car accident. Her son remained in a coma for 14 years before he died one month ago on Thanksgiving Day, Swanson said.

“In a way, Pat had to go through losing her son twice (through the accident and coma and then when he passed away),” Swanson said. “When you think of the heartache that has caused her ... She cared for him for 14 years, and I’m sure she went to visit him regularly. We felt Pat was a great candidate for the holiday makeover.”

Larson was nominated for the holiday makeover by her daughter, Ann Binz of Princeton, and Larson’s best friend, Cheryl Roberts of Buda. When she learned she had been nominated and won the makeover, Larson said she was shocked but so very pleased.

On Dec. 14, as she got ready to leave Ooh La La with her holiday makeover complete, Larson smiled and said it was a very nice experience.

Linker, the second winner, received her holiday makeover on Wednesday. Her sister, Fonda Bohm of Bureau, was the person who nominated her, again without her knowing it, Linker said.

As she retold the story of her nomination, Linker acknowledged it’s been a hard few years with one thing after another. In 2000, her son was killed in a car accident. In 2007, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. In 2009, she had a surgery in which a nerve was severed. She no longer has use of that arm. She can no longer drive a car or work. Things have been rough, Linker said.

When she learned she had not only been nominated for the holiday makeover but had actually been selected as a winner, she was thrilled, Linker said. She and her sister laughed and cried together when Bohm told her about it.

“This was huge for me. I’m so excited about this,” Linker said. I’ve never done something like this for myself before. For Ooh La La to do something like this is a wonderful thing, and and it’s a wonderful way for me to celebrate Christmas.”

Comment on this story at www.bcrnews.com.

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