Even as a toddler, Brandi Gamache's photographs highlighted the long, strawberry blond hair gracefully flowing over her shoulders. Two weeks ago, Brandi, 8, ordered a stylist to cut most of it off and give the 14-inch mane to a little girl who doesn't have hair.
Brandi had just finished reading a book about a girl who lost her hair during chemotherapy. Soon after, she read an article about a not-for-profit organization called Locks of Love, which uses donated hair to provide hair prosthetics for children with medical hair loss. Locks of Love has helped 40 children to get the hairpieces, which take 43 months to make. Founder Peggy Knight has seen the transformation in wig recipients—mostly girls with alopecia (an immune system ailment that causes hair loss and afflicts more than 2 million children)—from sad, lowered faces to smiling, hair-flipping girls.
Brandi had fought for years to keep her hair long. Her mom had wanted it cut because it was difficult to manage. But when Brandi came to her with the idea, Mom was reluctant. "It's traumatic for me," admits Sharon Gamache. "It's like a part of her is getting cut." Soon after, Sharon saw a bald little girl at a store; she called it God's sign and scheduled an appointment.
The stylist "told me to close my eyes," Brandi says. And when I opened them up it was like ..." Her eyes widened to show her reaction to her missing hair. But she is proud that it will now rest on another little girl's head.