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Her loss of locks is another child’s gain

POSTED: December 25, 2007 5:02 a.m.

After three long years of waiting, the time for Danielle Richey’s haircut finally arrived Thursday morning.

Richey, a fifth-grader at White Sulphur Elementary, had been growing out her hair since second grade to donate to Locks of Love. The national nonprofit organization takes donations of human hair to provide hairpieces for children suffering from long-term medical hair loss.

Stylist Kim Miller at Ahava salon in Gainesville did the cut. She gathered Richey’s long, blond hair back in
a ponytail at the nape of her neck and, using large scissors, cut it off.

"Oh, my God," Richey said as she looked at the shorn ponytail when Miller held it up for her.

Danielle’s mother, Lydia Richey, said she was proud of her daughter’s decision, though not surprised by her outpouring of compassion.

"She just came home one day and said she wanted to grow her hair out and she wanted to donate her hair to kids with cancer," Lydia Richey said Thursday morning as her daughter got her hair cut at the salon.

Danielle Richey said she was inspired by one of her second-grade teachers to donate her hair.

"I decided that I wanted to do it, so I went home and told my mom," Danielle Richey explained as Miller trimmed her hair. "I decided to start growing mine out after I learned about it, and so now I’m donating it."

Miller said that she has done haircuts before for people who were donating to Locks of Love.

"When I cut, I don’t charge," Miller said. "I don’t mail it off for them, I give it back to them. I do it for free."

Danielle Richey admitted that she had been getting a little anxious in recent weeks as the time to cut off her long blonde locks drew near.

"She came to me last week and said ‘Make me an appointment. I’m ready to get it cut,’" Lydia Richey said. She explained she had been trying to convince her daughter to get the cut since the summer.

Danielle Richey was still a little anxious Thursday morning minutes before her first hair cut in three years. She seemed a little uneasy as Miller cut and styled her hair. But, Richey seemed to warm up to the idea after her golden locks were gone and the new, shorter do started taking shape.

"I’m glad I did it," Richey said.

The hair was cut off in a long ponytail that was the minimum required 10 inches and will be shipped to Locks of Love. The organization’s Web site estimates that as much as 80 percent of its hair donations come from children. Anyone can donate their hair to Locks of Love, but there are some requirements such as length and the condition of the hair.

According to the Locks of Love Web site, www.locksoflove.org, children’s hair loss can come from a number of medical causes, including cancer treatment. The majority of the children under 18 who are helped by Locks of Love have lost their hair due to a rare disease called alopecia, the Web site notes. Alopecia is an autoimmune disease that affects the hair follicles.



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