ATLANTIC, Iowa -- More than 600 people are currently waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant across the state. One Cass County firefighter hopes his new haircut will spark an increased interest in organ donation in Iowa.
It didn't take long for Atlantic firefighters to notice something different about their Chief Mark McNees. The fashion-forward haircut is turning heads in the town of nearly 7,000.
“A couple thought I went off the deep end,” McNees said. “But I’ve had a few raised eyebrows.”
One of his inspirations is his favorite professional athlete.
"My favorite ballplayer is Kansas City Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer, and he has goofy hair,” McNees said.
The other inspiration was saving lives.
“Draw attention to the organ donation and use that as a vehicle for people to ask me because this is not my normal hair,” he said.
The Iowa Donor Network recently teamed up with the Iowa Firefighters Association, which McNees currently serves as president of a campaign across the state.
“Their goal is to get 100 more donors in each county in the next 100 days, so it's a pretty ambitious goal."
McNees saw the power of organ donation first-hand when a close friend and former Indianola firefighter Brian Seymour tragically died fixing a ceiling light at his home in Texas.
“They touched 72 lives through his donation,” McNees said.
And there’s another firefighter family is in need.
"There is a firefighter in Waterloo whose wife, Jill Junk, is in need of a liver transplant,” McNees said.
He’s hoping his bold move can inspire others from the community.
“It’s not for everybody. For some people, it's out of their comfort zone, kind of like my haircut. So I just want them to think about it because you can touch so many people and save so many lives,” McNees said.
On Thursday, the Iowa Methodist Center will honor past organ donors with a special service of remembrance at noon. It will take place inside the Virginia Thompson Auditorium.