BRADENTON -- A local car dealership sponsored 60 haircuts for children in need Saturday while also giving some exposure to a barber academy that helps young people find a trade.
J.D. Byrider sponsored the 60 children's haircuts at Real Vision Barber Academy, 917 26th Ave. E. in Bradenton.
The event was made possible after a chance encounter between Nick Kodrea of J.D. Byrider and Cornelius Watkins, owner of the academy. Kodrea was inspired by Watkins' goal of helping young people go out into the world and get a job by teaching them a trade.
"He takes young kids and trains them," Kodrea said. "He gives them a career so they can be a productive person."
Paul Maier, owner of the J.D. Byrider used car dealership on 14th Street West, liked the idea of a free haircut event and agreed to sponsor it.
Kodrea hopes the event will provide the exposure for Real Vision to continue to grow while providing a free hair cut to the many students who couldn't afford one.
Students who attend the barber academy pay about $5,000 in tuition and have a choice of attending full-time or part-time. Part-time students take 13 to 15 months to complete the program, and full-time students take eight to 10 months.
Once students complete the 1,250-hour program they become licensed barbers in Florida.
The student clinic offers its services to the public from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.
Ricky Taylor has been studying at the academy for a year.
"This is one of my dreams, so it's like I'm living my dream," Taylor said.
Taylor said he has been cutting hair for 14 years, and now with the Real Vision Barber Academy, he is turning it into a career.
"I love making people look good," Taylor said. "I feel like I'm doing the right thing."
Taylor said he loves kids and was happy about the back-to-school event.
"I really like today's event, it's new to me," Taylor said. "A lot of kids can't afford a haircut so it's good for kids who are going to school."
Jessica De Leon, law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter@JDeLeon1012.