Ethan Steinquest/Macon County Times Nevaeh Salon owner Kassie White gives Erica Jenkins a haircut during the Kuts For Kinsley fundraiser held on May 6. Also pictured: Andi Jenkins.

Ethan Steinquest/Macon County Times

Nevaeh Salon owner Kassie White gives Erica Jenkins a haircut during the Kuts For Kinsley fundraiser held on May 6. Also pictured: Andi Jenkins.

Elizabeth and Dusty Dodson's lives were changed after their newborn daughter Kinsley was found with a heart defect, but the community has rallied behind the couple to raise money for an upcoming open heart surgery.

Nevaeh Salon's Kuts For Kinsley fundraiser brought in $2,420 on May 6, and a benefit ride with horses and ATVs is set for Saturday across from 716 Pumpkintown Road in Red Boiling Springs.

"We appreciate everyone's help so much," Elizabeth Dodson said. "No words can describe how thankful we are. The prayers are the biggest thing ... Kinsley has so many people praying for her, and we are so grateful."

Kinsley, who is currently just under three months old, was diagnosed weeks after her birth.

"When Kinsley was 2 ½ weeks old, we went to the doctor for a heart murmur and found out she has coarctation of the aorta," Elizabeth Dodson said. "Her aorta arch is very narrow, and that affects blood flow to the rest of her body."

Since then, the family has regularly seen a cardiologist and pediatrician to monitor Kinsley's condition, and they are waiting for the right time to have the surgery, which is estimated to occur in four to five months and does not yet have a cost estimate attached.

"When we went the first time, they admitted us to Vanderbilt Children's Hospital for four days," Elizabeth Dodson said. "They decided not to do surgery then because she was so small. As long as she's stable, they wanted to let her keep growing bigger and stronger."

The outlook for the surgery is favorable, although Kinsley is expected to require follow-up procedures to make sure her heart is growing properly.

"They say they do this surgery often, but Kinsley's aortic arch is a bit more severe than a lot they've seen," Elizabeth Dodson said. "She's also been diagnosed with Williams Syndrome (a developmental disorder with symptoms including heart and blood vessel problems). The main thing with that is the heart condition."

When Kassie White, the owner of Nevaeh Salon, heard about the family's situation she and her employees knew they wanted to help. Elizabeth Dodson frequents the salon and has become friends with those working there.

"We raised far more money than we expected," White said. "The goal was $1,500. The family actually stopped by as well. That was a really neat and emotional moment for everyone."

Salon employees spent the day of the fundraiser giving haircuts and serving grilled lunches to passersby, with the proceeds going directly to the Dodson family.

"Going through something like that is hard," White said. "I know the financial struggle that comes with it, and it means the world. It's very emotional to see everyone come together and help this family out."