The organization was created in 1998 by Madonna Coffman, a retired registered nurse who developed alopecia areata, a disease having no known cause or cure.
But, the inspiration for the organization would not occur until 15 years later when Coffman's 4-year old daughter, Abigail, was also diagnosed with the disease. Coffman said her own hair loss was difficult, but that of her daughter's was 10 times harder. Since then, Coffman has worked as a full-time volunteer, cheered on by her daughter's surprising recovery, and dedicated to providing comfort for those still battling hair loss in addition to illness.
Although finding a suitable donor willing to lop off a minimum of 10 inches of hair might sound impossible, one such donor, James Fitzhenry is doing just that. Fitzhenry will donate his hair to Locks of Love at the Liberty Bar in Hoboken on Sept. 20 at 8 p.m.
Haircuts for a cause
Fitzhenry, a long-time surfer and skier, has always kicked around the idea of chopping off his shoulder length hair he's had since high school. But, it was an off-the-cuff remark that inspired him to actually make good on the idea.
"I'm the only one of my friends with long hair," said Fitzhenry, "and I asked [my friends] how much they'd pay me to shave my head. You know, '$300, $500,' they said, and so I started looking for a bar to host the event."
Fitzhenry, a former employee of the New Jersey Community Development Corporation (NJDCD), tries to hold at least two charity events a year. Combined with the NJDCD, Fitzhenry has held Halloween bashes and more recently helped construct a playground in Patterson.
Dawn Kaplan, owner of Liberty Bar, has hosted many charitable events with Fitzhenry over the past few years. On Halloween of last year, the duo combined to host a costume party for charity.
"He's a really good guy," said Dawn Kaplan, owner of Liberty, who will also be donating proceeds of the event to the charity.
"We have give-aways like shirts, and grills, and hats. There's a cooler here, too," Kaplan said. Kaplan and company are going to "give some stuff away, and have a really good time," doing it, Kaplan said.
Locks of Love, now in its 10th year, has helped more than 2,000 children find a sense of well-being and self-confidence in the prosthetic wigs Coffman and her organization have provided.
But, donating hair is not the only way to help. Sponsoring hair donations at local establishments raises awareness for the cause. And if nothing else, a lovably-purple, teddy bear named Curly is available for purchase on the locks of love website, www.locksoflove.org.
Comments on this story can be sent to: SeanA@hudsonreporter.com.