Tags: Featured Feature story, Geneva Lake West
Madelyn is shown here with hairstylist Gale Galvin of Attitudes hair salon in Delavan.
WHAT IS LOCKS OF LOVE?
It is a nonprofit organization that provides hairpieces to the financially disadvantaged children under age 21 suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis. It meets a unique need for children by using donated hair to create the highest quality hair prosthetics.
Most of the children helped by Locks of Love have lost their hair due to a medical condition called alopecia areata, which has no known cause or cure.
The prostheses provided helps restore self-esteem and confidence, enabling the children to face the world and their peers.
It was started in its current nonprofit form officially in 1997 and was spearheaded by Madonna Coffman, a retired cardiac nurse who had experience working for nonprofit organizations. When she was in her 20s, Coffman had developed alopecia after receiving a hepatitis vaccination. With medication, she recovered, but 15 years later, her daughter developed it and lost all of her hair. Her daughter's hair loss was difficult on her and took on Locks of Love as a full-time volunteer.
To date, thousands of children have been helped through Locks of Love.
For more information on Locks of Love, go to www.locksoflove.org.
February 22, 2012 | 08:20 AMDELAVAN — Fontana Elementary fourth-grader Madelyn Bosshart may be only 9, but her empathy and desire to put others first is well beyond her years.
Late last week, Madelyn sat calmly at Attitudes, a hair salon in downtown Delavan. As she brushed her 17-inch long, sandy blonde hair out of her eyes and tucked it behind her ears, she talked about why she was giving it up for Locks of Love.
"My friend's mom has a very serious kind of cancer and may pass in a couple weeks," she said. "She lost all her hair and I don't want little girls to feel sad and left out because all the other girls have hair. I want to give little girls, like some of my friends, the hair they need."
Locks of Love is an organization that collects hair donations and makes them into hairpieces for children who suffer from long-term hair loss. A hair donation to Locks of Love must be at least 10 inches and it takes about six to 10 donated ponytails to make one hairpiece.
Thanks to Madelyn, Locks of Love is one ponytail closer to making another hairpiece for a child in need.
Madelyn's idea to help through the donation didn't surprise her teacher, Kim Epping, one bit. Madelyn has made an impact at the school even though this is just her first year in Fontana. Epping said Madelyn never wants anyone to be left out, so she ensures to involve everyone in activities. Because of that attitude, she has made many friends in class.
"She is one of the most unselfish students I have ever met," Epping said. "She puts others before herself all the time. When she said she was doing this, it didn't surprise me at all. She always wants to help people and that is rare at this age. You just don't see that."
Epping remembers the first time she met Madelyn.
"It was an open house and she came bouncing into the room with a smile and introduced herself," Epping said. "That smile has never left her face."
For a short time as Madelyn sat in the chair having 10 inches of her hair chopped off, the smile wasn't as apparent. Before hopping into the chair, Madelyn said she wasn't scared about having her hair cut. Rather, she said she was excited and had told all her friends about it.
After Attitudes' hairstylist and co-owner Gale Galvin completed the cuts for the Lock of Love, Madelyn's signature smile quickly returned.
"I like it, I like it," Madelyn said with a beaming smile staring at herself in the mirror as Galvin put on the finishing touches of her new hairstyle. "It's cute. I don't have much to brush."
Epping agreed. She said she loved Madelyn's new hairdo.
"She never had time for her hair anyway," Epping said. "She just doesn't care about things like that."
As she held in a ponytail the hair just cut off her head, Madelyn said she thought there would be more. But she said she was happy to help out.
Since the nonprofit Locks of Love organization was created, thousands of children have been helped. Locks of Love has supplied children with hairpieces in all 50 states and Canada.
There are two main diseases that cause long-term hair loss in children.
The largest number of children helped by Locks of Love have alopecia, an autoimmune disorder that causes the hair follicles to shut down. The disease has varying degrees and affects 4.7 million people in the United States alone. There currently is no known cure for alopecia.
Children with cancer is the second highest percentage of recipients. Every year, approximately 2,200 people under the age of 20, are diagnosed with brain tumors. Radiation treatment to the brain stem as a treatment for cancer can cause permanent hair loss. Chemotherapy also can cause hair loss.