Real People: Transplant patient gives back to foundation

If you go

Third Angels for Life Hair and Fashion Show

5 p.m. VIP, 6 p.m. general public Sunday, Oct. 13

Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center, 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway

Tickets: General admission, $45; VIP, $79; HALO sponsors, $99.

Information: 770-426-0313;

It’ a good thing Lester Crowell isn’t afflicted by triskaidekaphobia - fear of the number 13. Throughout his life, the numbers three and 13 have been popping up, not just whimsically. They are often tied significant events in his life.

“My birthday is on the 13th, and when I was 13, I started having heart trouble,” said Crowell, one of three partners in the Three-13 Salon, a 13,000-square-foot salon and spa in Marietta that he opened 39 years ago on March 13. “I have had three hearts in my body and got the last one 13 years ago.”

It wasn’t strong numerical connections but Crowell’s experience with heart transplants that drove him to do something for others facing similar circumstances.

“In December of 2010, I got a second heart [transplant] at Emory, and I asked my surgeon, ‘If I were to win the lottery, who should I donate the money to?’ ” recalled Crowell, 56. “The doctor immediately said the Georgia Transplant Foundation because it helps people who can’t pay their bills or even need help getting to the hospital.”

Crowell came up with the idea of staging a fundraiser for the Foundation. On Oct. 13, he will host his third “Angels for Life” hair and fashion show at the Cobb Energy Center to raise awareness and funds for transplant patients. The evening event will feature food, drinks, fashion and hair displays, as well as stories from transplant recipients.

“I’ve gone to fashion and hair shows and charity events all my life, so I just put the two together to raise awareness of the challenges transplant recipients face,” said Crowell.

The day of the event, Crowell and his staff volunteer their talents to do hair and make-up for all the participants. After a 1-hour VIP reception, the gala kicks off at 6 p.m. with a silent auction and personal stories emceed by Melissa Carter, the morning co-host on station B98.5 and an 11-year survivor of a kidney transplant who has been part of the program since its inception. This year’s event inaugurates a live auction. Among those telling their personal stories will be twins who received liver transplants and the daughter of an organ donor.

In its first two years, the event raised enough money that Crowell comfortably rounded it off to $33, 313.13.

“I didn’t even realize until I wrote the first check that there were a lot of threes and thirteens in it,” said Crowell with a laugh. “It was my doctor’s idea to round it off. And it’s a great way to represent my staff and the 100 volunteers who get behind this event and organizing a bake sale in the salon for this cause.”

Crowell, who will mark his 57th birthday at this year’s event, has set a new fundraising goal for 2013.

“If we can raise $49,000,” he said, “it will mean in three years we donated $113,000.”

Every other Wednesday, H.M. Cauley brings you positive stories from our community. To suggest a story idea, call 770-744-3042 or e-mail