Cutting for Tristan: Fundraiser brings in thousands for son of Carson woman killed in January
March 5, 2013
For John Bragg Jr., his haircut was bittersweet. On one hand, he hated long hair, but he had been letting it grow out since his sister had died after an apparent road-rage incident.“I almost teared up,” he said. “I was real close.”It wasn’t just the haircut that was difficult. It was being at the Paul Mitchell Beauty Academy in Reno on Monday that made him tense up. The last time he’d been there was for his sister Desiree’s academy graduation in 2012. The Carson City woman died Jan. 30 at 19. Leonardo Cardoza had allegedly tailgated Bragg and her fianc for about two miles. He faces a murder charge and an attempted murder charge and has a hearing set for March 22.“When she walked in here, she blew up and said hi to everybody,” John said.Given the circumstances, John was faring well at the fundraiser for Desiree Bragg’s son, 6-month-old Tristan, although Desiree’s aunt Laura Wilson was having a similarly emotional time.“It’s hard,” she said. The last time she, too, had been at the academy was for Bragg’s graduation. “I’m trying. It’s good to be here, though, with everyone being so supportive, with all the stylists, everyone came together here” to support Tristan.“It’s really emotional being here without her,” she said.The beauty school’s Cut-A-Thon fundraiser raised $5,020 between haircuts and a bake sale for Tristan’s education.The fundraiser was supposed to last until 3 p.m. but at 4, there were still people getting their hair cut and styled, academy owner and director Marjie Christensen said.Bragg’s mother, Wrenetta Nadon, said she was excited by the idea of the fundraiser, and the event itself.“I don’t care if it only makes $10; Desiree would be thrilled,” Nadon said.Christensen said people at the school came to her and demanded that something be done in the wake of Desiree’s death. She saw an opportunity to do what the beauty school and its row upon row of cutting stations and hair-washing basins does best: Be beautiful.“It was the easiest one-day thing to make a lot of money,” Christensen said. Each person who came in received both a shampoo and a haircut and style. All the consumable supplies were supplied by the beauty academy, while each stylist brought equipment and used the stations at the academy.“We had 39 local hairstylists,” Christensen said. “Ten different salons were represented.”She had to request permission from the state to have all the hairdressers under the one roof.Although Christensen was able to keep track of the stylists, she was not able to keep track of the cuts. The fundraiser started at 9 a.m. and by 11, they had lost count of how many had come through. Christensen estimated 300 haircuts were given — which, if each patron had given the suggested $10, would have been well below the $5,020 raised. Many came just to donate, while others gave upward of $250.The goal is to help send Tristan to Bethlehem Lutheran School in Carson City. In a few more weeks, Nadon will meet with a financial adviser to determine the best way to use the funds raised for Tristan’s schooling. Desiree had spoken with her mother about sending Tristan to her alma matter a few weeks before her death.Nadon’s stylist, from Carson Carson, came up to Reno to offer her services. Jacqui Schwitters said she’d known Desiree since she was a little girl.“I have known the family for years. I loved loved loved Desiree.”Desiree used to play sports with Schwitters’ granddaughter.“She never left your room without giving you a hug and saying she loved you,” she said.BEST FRIENDSBrandon Barron, 28, and Desiree were self-described best friends at the beauty school after they were introduced by a teacher who instructed that they would form a fast friendship. Sure enough, the two hit it off quickly.“I never saw her down,” Barron said. “She was a glass-half-full” kind of person who believed every problem and person could be fixed.Barron, who bustled about the expansive studio, coordinating students to help stylists and moved patrons along to their booths, graduated a short time before Desiree did but came back for her graduation. Back at the school, he was a day away from the test will allow him to become a stylist. In the meantime, he tried to make sure her son would at least be able to go to the school Desiree wanted him to.HOW TO HELPAn account has been set up to help Desiree Bragg’s family with her medical expenses, her funeral costs and the raising of her son. Donations can be made at any Greater Nevada Credit Union, with the account number 926595 and the routing number 321280143.