Local News

February 22, 2013

Spa giveaway pampers locals who ‘put themselves on the back burner’

The word spa conjures images of rich Southern women with a lot of free time, said Lorie Sellers, owner of the Facial Studio at Chelsea’s in Dalton. It rarely makes people think of exhaustion, cancer and death.

“I had a client seven years ago that came to me and she was receiving treatment for breast cancer,” Sellers said. “She came to feel better, but she would also buy gift certificates for others who were going through hard times. She would do this around Valentine’s Day.”

But not this year.

“She passed away recently,” Sellers said. “So I decided to do this in her honor. I asked people to send me names of people who are going through a hard time and offer them something to help ease their burdens.”

That’s why she selected Betsy Helton and Jennifer Sicairos as winners of the Valentine’s Day Tribute contest. Friends of the nominees wrote letters to Sellers detailing why each nominee deserved a free one-hour spa session and a dozen roses. Laura Rodgers nominated Helton and Ashley Stanley nominated Sicairos.

The winners were revealed Wednesday afternoon at the studio above the Chelsea’s on Thornton restaurant.

“I’m truly humbled,” Helton said after learning she had won. “I’m just moved that someone sees (generosity) in me because I don’t always see it in myself.”

After her son Henry was born with Down syndrome in 2004, Helton quit her job as a teacher at Roan Elementary School to take care of him.

“He’s been a true blessing to me and my family, he has shown us what strength and patience is about; what joy and love are. We probably wouldn’t have known the extent of love without going through this with him,” she said.

Losing both her parents recently — her mother to dementia, her father to liver cancer — was more difficult.

“I’ve lost both of them and it has been a daily struggle. But if I did not have Henry I wouldn’t have been prepared to take care of my parents. I wouldn’t be standing here at all without God’s grace. It’s been a journey and it still is ... this whole thing (the contest) was — well — I’m surprised by this,” she said.

She shouldn’t be, said Rodgers, the friend who nominated her.

“She was the perfect person to nominate,” she said. “Betsy is always doing something for someone else ... she never steps back and thinks she needs down time. She’s a great, sweet and loving spirit.”

Sicairos, who could not attend Wednesday’s reveal, said the contest was “awesome.”

“I had no idea I was even nominated until Ashley called me and told me I had won,” she said. “I was shocked. When I was younger, I had a rough childhood. My mom went to prison when I was young and I didn’t know my dad. He committed suicide when I was 12. My grandparents raised me, but they worked a lot so I was pretty much by myself until I was 16.

“I met my husband then and we got pregnant at 16. Now we have three babies and we’re almost 25. We couldn’t really go to college, so we struggled a bit. It feels great to know someone thinks I’m doing good as a mom. I don’t think I deserve it though. I’m just doing what I think I should be doing. I don’t think I should be rewarded for this, but I am grateful all the same.”

Putting families first means women “sometimes put themselves on the back burner and think of themselves last,” Sellers said.

“Massage therapy is really about healing ourselves,” Jackie Poe, massage therapist, said. “It’s not just about physical healing, but emotional, too. Sometimes we think we’re sick or we go to a therapist, but sometimes it’s just stress and we need to relax.”

Sicairos says she’s looking forward to a day off.

“I just want to say to Ashley, I love you so much,” she said. “She is a wonderful mother and a great friend. To Lorrie ... she is awesome. To do this for people makes her a great friend, too.”

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