A recent fundraiser at the Drumheller Institution hit close to home for staff at the penitentiary.
Correctional officer Steve Jones had his 18 inch long ponytail cut off and his head shaved to raise money for the Canadian Mental Health Association.
"A really good friend of mine lost a battle with mental illness," he related. "He used to give me a hard time because I had very long hair, whenever they did the cuts for cancer, that I should donate my hair and make a ton of money and I never did. After we lost him, I thought what better way to honour him?"
"Doing what we do up here, obviously we're at high stress levels and they do give us mental health training and stuff like that to try and deal with it, but you've got rock stars (where) everyone thinks it's a perfect life and these guys are commiting suicide."
Jones called his fundraiser 'Cut the Hair or Keep the Hair' and friends and co-workers were asked to donate towards one outcome or the other. The 'Cut' crowd raised more than $1,300, while the 'Keep' total was about $600 for a total of about $2,000 for him to shave his head.
"It's always nice to raise funds for stuff like that when they need the money," Jones told Drum Fm. "But I think the bigger message is look, if you need help, get help."
In addition to the money for mental health, Jones donated his ponytail to be made into a wig for someone undergoing cancer treatment.