Generosity of local business

The process required a special product, which Whittington immediately ordered and made affordable for McIntyre, who admitted doesn't "have a lot of money."

"Through trial and error, we got her where she is," he said with a laugh.

Since Breanna first started going to Tangles, her new head of hair has continued to evolve and is now virtually impossible to tell apart from a regular head of hair, said Whittington.

"When she first came in, she was very downtrodden," he said. "Once she got her hair, she began to open up. When I saw her smile and she hugged me for the first time, it was great."

"She's always had a good personality but you can tell the difference," said McIntyre. "She feels better about herself; she's got more confidence."

Even Breanna herself said her new look has helped a lot with people who have either teased her about her appearance in the past or who simply didn't understand what ectodermal dysplasia is, she said.

"I've gotten picked on a lot," said Breanna. "I looked different before I got my extensions because I didn't have a lot of hair. A lot of people have asked me questions about it because they're curious. A lot of people assume I have cancer."

Now, that's not the case.

"It makes me look a little bit more normal," Breanna said of her extensions, which are made from authentic human hair. "A lot of people don't even know I have them. They think it's my real hair."

Breanna's personal story is one example of how Whittington and Gerry help people on an everyday basis, said McIntyre.

"I thought what better people to nominate than them," she said.

And, though they didn't win, Tangles did place within the top 150 nominations in the country and was the only business nominated in the county. The closest was "One Little, Two Little," an on-line children's store based in Keene in Essex County.

Even without national recognition, Whittington said he and Gerry will continue doing what they do.

"I've been there before. Life hasn't always been good for me," said Whittington. "I know what it's like to be in need and not know who will help you. And, to have someone step up, completely unknown to you and help, it's something you never forget."

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