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American Faces #94 - The Champion



American Faces No. 94


I know, I know. I chose what is likely the most overused title ever: “The Champion.” But I think there is no title more fitting for Kari Lazzarino. She is a loving mother to 4 kids, a barber-trained and self-proclaimed Man-ol-o-gist, and owner of the Bearded Viking barber shop in Monticello, Minnesota. Kari is only 5 foot (plus a few inches) tall, but she’s a fierce powerhouse of a woman who had to recreate herself and her family, moving away from her home state of California for a new start, and a new life.  Kari decided to go back to using her maiden name, not by her choosing, but because of the choices her ex-husband forced her into. Kari is a woman who will never let herself or her family be hurt again. She knew she needed to write new chapters in a story of restoration and wholeness, a story of a true champion. So, what does a true champion look like? (Here’s where the story gets good)


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THIS true champion is a woman who trims beards and hair like a wizard. Well, a wizard with clippers, scissors and a comb. She shapes the beards of the customers she calls “my guys” to a near magical quality. Ok, I might be embellishing, but it’s truly amazing to watch her sculpt the hair and Viking-like beards of the guys that frequent her shop just off Main Street in Monticello. I should also note that she works her hair-sculpting magic for quite a few women as well.


You may have noticed I’m not including the backstory of Kari’s life. There’s no need for me to do that. You can hear it on this podcast (go to about the 52:00 mark). I just want to showcase a woman’s story that, like the tattoo on her forearm, speaks of her faith – both in herself, and in God. Kari knew she had to focus on taking the next breath. She knew she had to be fierce. She had to wake up and start a new day, then another day, then another. She just knew she couldn’t stop, and she refused to be a victim. Her story was filled with unimaginable difficulty, but her kids, her family and “her guys” have helped her push on. They help her smile, to take on another day, and they help her be the true Champion she was made to be. Read that again: a true Champion!


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I always close my stories by encouraging you, the reader, to do something. Well here it is: Go get a haircut, and maybe a beard trim if you need it, at the Bearded Viking. Say “hi” to Kari. If that doesn't fit into your schedule, go help a struggling mom, a dad or a grandparent. Maybe buy groceries for someone who’s just having trouble making ends meet. You WILL change their lives. You might just help them become a Champion!


Go make a difference!



Photos and story by: Nielsen Studios

Editing by: Scott Whitman






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