Ponytails of hope
Published: May 25, 2006 | 4252nd good news item since 2003
As Beauty Bar hairstylist Alisa Wallace worked her scissors through 9-year-old Erica Eyler’s ponytails, Erica squeezed her eyes shut anxiously.
After five minutes, Erica opened her eyes, and with a look of shock, saw 10 inches of her honey blond hair in her hands.
‘‘This is going to be beautiful and it’s going to be fun,” Wallace said of the girl’s new, short bob.
With only a few styling tools and a hairdryer inside the Great Frederick Fair grounds Friday evening, Beauty Bar stylists cut volunteers’ hair for free to donate to Locks of Love.
Locks of Love is a national nonprofit organization that uses donated hair and resources to provide realistic hairpieces to children 18 years and younger with long-term medical hair loss.
Boys and girls who receive hairpieces have lost their hair due to cancer treatments, severe burns or from alopecia areata, an auto-immune disorder that stops hair growth.
According to Locks of Love’s national office, participating hair salons such as Hair Cuttery, Fantastic Sam’s and Super Cuts, have Locks of Love decals in their windows.
The Locks of Love donations were part of Frederick County’s Relay for Life events on Friday and Saturday.
Relay for Life is an overnight event to celebrate survivors of cancer and raise money for research and programs for the American Cancer Society. According to the Frederick County Relay for Life Web site, donations this year totaled more than $94,000. Since 1997, the county event has raised more than $1 million for cancer research.
Teams across the country gather at schools, fairgrounds and parks to walk or run laps and gather donations for their time. Each team must have at least one member on the track throughout the event.
Along with the relay, many other events went on throughout the evening, including the Locks of Love donations.
Erica’s mother, Lisa Eyler of Walkersville, watched proudly as Wallace cut and styled her daughter’s hair. Eyler, a committee member for Relay for Life, said that her mother recently died of cancer, and donating hair to Locks of Love was something that she and Erica had talked about.
‘‘My grandma just died from pancreatic cancer so I thought I could donate some and help someone out,” Erica said.
The Beauty Bar agreed to donate its time and resources to the Frederick Relay for Life after an acquaintance of Eyler’s asked, manager April House said.
The Beauty Bar also cuts hair for Locks of Love for free at its salon in the Francis Scott Key Mall, House said. The salon’s parent company, Renee Beauty Salon Inc., is actively involved in community service. It is the reason why hairstylist Wallace works for the salon.
‘‘Our company is really good on anything to help the community,” she said. ‘‘It’s almost like we get frowned upon if we don’t help the community.”
Wallace has been personally involved with cancer awareness and fund raising efforts, she said.
‘‘A lot of people in my life have been affected,” she said. ‘‘It gets sad and depressing, but then you get mad about it,” Wallace said of cancer’s emotional toll.
Kimberley Stup, a team captain for United Healthcare at the Relay for Life, also donated 10 inches of her dark brown hair on Friday. Stup, a Thurmont resident, lost her mother to cancer when Stup was 8, she said.
Both Erica and Stup filled out a donor information card that will be sent with their hair by the Beauty Bar to Locks of Love.
The entire process of providing a hairpiece takes about four to six months. After creating a mold of the child’s head, a blend of different hair is hand injected into a skullcap piece nearly 150,000 times for one wig. According to Locks of Love’s national Web site, most of the children who apply for a hairpiece are girls.
Locks of Love believe the reason for the high volume of female applicants is the social expectation that girls have hair.
Aside from Locks of Love, teams at Frederick’s Relay for Life participated in other activities throughout the night. To kick off the event, cancer survivors walked the first lap on the track and mingled with other survivors at a Survivor Reception.
To honor those who have passed away from cancer, teams lit candles and listened to bagpiper David Throne at the Luminaria Ceremony.
A silent auction, late night pizza party and square dancing were also available for the teams.