Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Mulan, Pocahontas, Elsa and Anna, and of course Rapunzel.  Every Disney princess knows her hair is as important as her clothing.  It’s what shapes her personality, defines her beauty, and creates her image.  But what happens when hair is the one thing that eludes a young princess in the making?

Five year old Alison has Alopecia, which is an autoimmune disease causing hair loss and baldness.  For someone with so few years under her belt, Alopecia is what defines her and makes her different from everyone else.   “What’s wrong with you?

Why don’t you have any hair?  Do you have cancer?  Why are you wearing a hat when it’s so hot out?”  Kids are curious, and sometimes kids are mean.  Whatever makes you different is what kids focus on, whether it’s your name, your accent, the way you dress, or your lack of hair.

“I just want to have hair so I look like everyone else,” Alison told us.  We assure her that she is beautiful, that we would do the same thing to our own heads if we were as brave as she is.  But she knows the other kids notice and she also knows that she is the only child in her class, the only child at A Kid’s Place, the only child in her school with no hair.

Enter Custom Hair Tampa Bay.  Brandon location store owner Lori Younkman made it her mission to find a wig to fit such a petite head and spent hours measuring, planning, discussing, and working on this important project.  But wigs don’t come cheap, and the budget we had in mind was small.  Lori offered to pay for half of the wig, but we still had a ways to go.  It didn’t take but one phone call before local attorney Lisa Esposito (who also happens to be a member of Ye Notorious Krewe of the Peg Leg Pirate) and her legal assistant Stacy Sciarra stepped in.  Stacy raised money with a Go Fund Me account, Lisa threw in some more, and Mattress Firm’s Ticket to Dream Foundation completed the balance.

On the day of the wig fitting, Alison couldn’t contain her excitement.  Her house parent came in on her day off to accompany Alison, and the little girl was ready hours before her appointment.  The salon chair swallowed her up and Lori had to find a seat for Alison to sit on so the wig could be adjusted and styled, but it was clear to see that Alison could have floated on her own, much like Jasmine on her magic carpet.  That day, Alison saw her inner princess even though we’d seen it all along.  Her self-confidence has soared, her smile is brighter, and her eyes no longer reflect fear and sadness.  Hair shouldn’t be that important, but as all princesses know, it’s her crowning glory.

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