Matrix Chairs of Change supports Lenny Strand when paying it forward for the “It Gets Better Project” in support of bullied youths
Bullying has long been a bane of schools, with countless children and adolescents the finding themselves victims of this practice for a variety of reasons. Even Olympic diving champion Greg Louganis was a bullied teenager who was beaten up regularly and robbed of his lunch money, even pushing the young athlete to attempt suicide. Today, many years, one silver and two gold Olympic medals later, this world class athlete serves as an ambassador for the It Gets Better Project, an organization that provides hope and support for bullied lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender teenagers. As part of this campaign, Louganis recently appeared at a special It Gets Better fundraiser hosted by Matrix Artistic Designer Lenny Strand as part of the Matrix Chairs of Change, an initiative that celebrates the often small yet significant changes that hairdressers make in their efforts to make the world a better place.
Strand and Louganis found their common ground with the “It Gets Better Project”. As a gay teenager in a small rural community in Southern Minnesota, Strand himself suffered from the devastating taunts and cruelty for many years. However, he succeeded in overcoming such personal trauma thanks to the loving support of friends and family and went on to run a successful salon in upscale Beverly Hills and enjoy a fulfilling career with Matrix.
Now with the wisdom that comes with age, Lenny decided to celebrate his 50th birthday by “paying it forward,” with a St. Patrick’s Day weekend birthday bash and It Gets Better fundraiser at the Saguaro Hotel in Palm Springs. Thanks to the donations made by the more than 100 people who attended and a raffle, Strand has already succeeded in raising more than $35,000 for It Gets Better, but the money is still coming in, urging him to set a goal of $50,000 for his 50th year.
Fundraising often takes coordinated efforts, so when Lenny made his move, his Matrix family was by his side—including his longtime friend and mentor, Logics International Color Spokesperson Gina Khan, along with Vice President of Marketing Elisa Fischer and Vice President of Strategic Initiatives Gail Cohen and Matrix Assistant Vice President of Integrated Communications Patrick O’Keefe. Four members of the Spread the Love Ambassadors team– Jackie Marie Hovorka, Patrick Heid, Jessica Bosworth and Erwin Sapao—were also on hand.
During the event, Lenny’s psychotherapist Dr. Nicki Monti gave a touching presentation on strategies for recovering from the emotional scars left by bullying, and his young nephew Ryan Scofield, also a victim of bullying, talked about an anti-bullying project that he has initiated for Destination Imagination, a global non-profit that promotes problem-solving projects for kids. It Gets Better’s Brett Peters was also on hand to record videotaped testimonials from guests to be added to the organization’s archive, which already counts videos from such influential figures as President Barack Obama, Adam Levine, Hillary Clinton and Joel Madden.
Lenny’s personal trainers Jaylen Moore and Brittany Carson, sponsored by Oui Juice, were also on hand to conduct self-defense classes, while several of Lenny’s clients and friends also sponsored the event, including. Janine Smith, Jamra & Jamra Law, Pahnke Wealth Management, Stuart Jackson, Strands Inc. and E. Broox Randall & Sons, Inc. As part of its contribution, Matrix contributed the new Total Results Blonde Care collection to the goody bags that were distributed to all the guests. Raffle participants included Burke Williams Spa, the Saguaro, Chappellet Wine and Lancôme.
“I am so humbled by the presence of everyone who attended,” Lenny shared. “I’m here in large part because my Matrix family has embraced me for who I am and allowed me to blossom.” He added, “When I imagined my 50th birthday, this is what I imagined it would look like. The first half of my life was about me. Now the second half will be about serving others, and this is the perfect beginning.” In another of the many emotional moments during the weekend, Lenny revealed that one of the people who actually bullied him years ago made an online donation to It Gets Better, demonstrating that awareness helps everyone to heal.
Donations to It Gets Better can still be made on behalf of Lenny’s birthday. Visit www.itgetsbetter.org, click on “Donate” and contribute in the name of Lenny Strand.