GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - A Gulfport hairstylist is making a name for herself at Joyce’s Cool Cutz.
Only working at the salon for a little more than a month, Stephanie Huddleston has put in 10-hour workdays to help keep her family afloat and make sure her son Darian has what he needs. The 15-year-old is autistic and has a rare genetic syndrome that causes him to have intellectual and physical disabilities.
Her children have always been Huddleston’s priority and a constant conversation among her clients during hair appointments, which inspired one customer to lend a helping hand.
Saturday morning, members of The Corvette Club of Mississippi and other local car groups came together to help raise funds for a handicap accessible van for Darian, something his mother has been trying to do since July.
A line of sports cars filled the parking lot of the hair salon as club members and supporters sold food, drinks and raffle tickets to guests.
Huddleston was surprised at the turnout and hopeful for a new vehicle.
“We just want the bare minimum,” she said. “We have a small car and you have to disassemble his whole chair (to get him in). We’re lifting him back and forth out of it and it’s a bit more work on his body.”
The car show was organized by Rodney Meaner, one of Huddleston’s regulars.
“I promised God that if I were to be blessed with my dream car, that I would pass those blessings or anything I can do to try and help somebody,” he said. “With all the ugly things going around these days, we felt it would be a nice gesture to pay it forward somehow.”
While supporters and loved ones hope the family will soon get their much-needed van, some call on other community members to help Darian in his time of need.
“I wish a car lot would see this and come forward and help with the biggest help we need,” said Joyce Miller, owner of Joyce’s Cool Cutz.
For now, Huddleston expressed her gratitude for the sports cars, donated food items and support.
“We just are so thankful that everybody loves Darian enough to include him and just be here to support him,” she said.
If you want to help Darian Huddleston, donate to his GoFundMe page.