Destiney, 8, recently chopped off 23 inches of her hair to donate to Locks of Love, a public nonprofit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children under age 18 suffering from long-term medical hair loss.
What was once a nuisance for Linda and Destiney Federowski may soon become the source of renewed self-esteem for a child.
Destiney, 8, of Anacoco, recently chopped off 23 inches of her hair to donate to Locks of Love, a public nonprofit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children under age 18 suffering from long-term medical hair loss.
"(My grandmother) had to help me wash the back of it because I was having trouble reaching it," Destiney said of her hair, which once reached past her knees.
Linda, Destiney's grandmother, also had the chore of putting Destiney's hair into a bun every Monday for two years so her granddaughter could attend ballet class.
The ordeal usually lasted about 45 minutes, she said, and included a number of extra-large bobby pins.
"Twenty-five," said Destiney, who once used to count the number of pokes she received in the scalp as her grandmother tried to capture and tame her tresses.
Aside from the pins, Linda used a cook's hair net to keep any stray locks from escaping. The weight of the bun would often give Destiney a headache, she said.
But now, with a bouncy bob, Destiney's headache days are over, she said.
"Now it's down to my neck, and (Grandma) doesn't have to deal with it anymore," she said.
Destiney first heard of the idea of donating her hair from her kindergarten teacher at Faith Training Christian Academy, said Linda.
The mission of Locks of Love is to return a sense of self, confidence and normalcy to children suffering from hair loss, according to the organization's Web site. Donated ponytails help provide high quality hair prosthetics which children receive free of charge or on a sliding scale, based on financial need.
"I gave it a year to make sure she was serious," Linda said of her granddaughter's desire to donate her hair.
Sure enough, after a year, Destiney still wanted to go through with it, so the two made an appointment at a salon where the first 13 inches of Destiney's hair was collected.
Just recently, they took a second cutting, this time 10 inches. Linda estimates that in another two years, they'll be able to cut another 10 inches.
And Destiney is all for cutting it again.
Most recipients of hair prosthetics from Locks of Love suffer from an autoimmune disorder called alopecia areata, which causes the hair follicles all over the body to shut down, causing permanent hair loss in most cases. There is no known cause or cure for the disorder.
Other recipients have been victim to severe burns, endured radiation treatment to the brain stem as a treatment for cancer, or suffer from any number of skin disorders that cause permanent hair loss.
The children who receive the hairpieces have lost more than their hair; they suffer from a loss of self, too, according to the Web site. Many children are teased by classmates and/or embarrassed by the attention they receive because of their hair loss and will often withdraw from normal childhood activities such as swimming, going to the mall or even playing with their friends.
Wearing a hairpiece can help restore normalcy to a degree and provide a foundation upon which to rebuild a child's self-esteem.
But finding a suitable hair piece can be daunting. Most wigs sold by retailers are made to fit adult heads and are much too big for children to wear. In addition, the styles of adult wigs are not age-appropriate and synthetic wigs can mat and frizz with excessive styling.
The hair prosthetics Locks of Love provides are custom-made from donated ponytails for each child’s head. They retail between $3,500 to $6,000. The hairpiece forms a vacuum seal, like a suction cup, and does not require the use of tape or glue. Only the wearer of the hairpiece may remove it, by breaking the vacuum seal at the temples. Children can dismiss insecurities about classmates pulling off their hairpiece or losing it at recess. They can swim, shower and do gymnastics – in short, they can be kids again. Hairpieces are made from real human hair, and arrive long and ready to style to fit the recipient's face.
For more information on Locks of Love, go to www.locksoflove.org.
Leesville Daily Leader