Length for Strength campaign in the new year

Many in the community are familiar with John Freer and Jiry Rosecrans battles with childhood cancer.

Strong hair

Posted on 1/2/16

By Melissa Anderson

What you may not know is that prior to Rosecrans diagnosis, she donated her hair to make wigs in Freer’s honor.

“When I first started to donate my hair, I felt proud knowing I was helping someone,” Jiry said.

“Jiry started donating her hair when she found out john freer had cancer years ago. She thought he would like a wig made from her hair,” Bridget Rosecrans, Jiry’s mother, added.

Last May, Jiry cut her hair again to donate for wigs. It was not long after this that Jiry and her family discovered that she had a brain tumor.

“After donating so many times and dealing with my own brain tumor I know how it is to loose some hair and feel sad about it,” Jiry said.

Now, as both children face similar struggles to regain their health, a new idea has emerged that the families would like to invite you to join.

Length for Strength is a hair donation campaign that Jiry and John would like as many people as possible to participate in. The campaign kicks off on January 1 of 2016 and will hopefully never end.

“Every hair salon is encouraged to participate. I would love to have other towns and as many salons participate as we can,” Rosecrans said, “ and at the end of the year we would like pictures sent to us from everyone who donated with their certificate.”

The reason behind “Length for Strength” is to keep kids like John Freer, Jiry, and all the others facing cancer with hair loss, radiation hair loss or other medical reasons one looses hair in peoples minds.

“It makes John really happy, knowing that people are willing to do this for him and other children that are battling cancer out there in the world,” Carey Freer, John’s mother, said.

What the two families hope many will realize by donating their hair is how much of an impact the donated hair for making wigs can be, not only to a child facing hair loss but to those who donate their hair.

By participating in the Length for Strength campaign, the benefits for Jiry and John are also apparent as for these two, they will know they are helping others with cancer and  hair loss by having this campaign.

“These two kids have such big hearts and always want to help others and this is one way they can,” Rosecrans said.

For Jiry, donating her hair has been a passion since her first donation. In this way, she believes she can help another child feel better and happier. But upon the discovery of her own brain tumor, finding a way to have others make hair donations became the next best thing. That  started the asking of others to grow out their hair in her place and subsequently donating it for wigs.

“Jiry had started asking people in the hospital if they would help her, help kids by donating their hair,” Rosecrans said.

From the request and challenges of the hospital, the idea to create an event snowballed further when Jiry learned that her long time friend and inspiration for donating her hair John Freer, had his  cancer return.

“Jiry was concerned who will donate hair for him if he wanted a wig,” Rosecrans stated.

This set the idea into motion to challenge not just the hospital staff and family friends but to challenge an entire community to grow out their hair and donate it. Rosecrans conducted research and sought the help of local hair salon owner and stylist Alyssa Plummer of True Beauty in Langdon. The results of the research turned up an organization called Children With Hair Loss (CWHL) that takes in donations of hair and creates wigs for children at no cost to the child.

CWHL opened in September of 2000. The organization was created after it’s founder did research discovered no other organizations that were giving human hair replacements to children at no cost.

“CWHL’s mission and goals were to never charge a family at a time when they need the most help,” CWHL states on their website.

Originally, CWHL’s focus was on children fighting cancer, until it found that there were a variety of reasons why children lost hair including Alopecia, burns, Trichotillomania and other rare diseases and disorders. CWHL provides a customized human hair replacement and care kit to over 300 children a year.

CWHL was created as a resource for all children who have medically-related hair loss. It is their mission to empower children by making hair replacement available to those who may be financially challenged or might not otherwise have a means of obtaining the hair they want and need.

“Our goal is to assist as many of these children as possible in changing their lives by improving their outlook and empowering them with a degree of self-confidence that will allow them to face the world with renewed self-esteem,” CWHL website stated.

There are a few requirements that donated hair must meet for it to be used in a wig. These requirements should be considered if you are interested in growing your hair out.

Donated hair cannot have undergone chemical treatment of any kind. This includes coloring, perms, or relaxers.

“When they go and clean it, the chemicals react and makes the hair brittle. They need really nice, healthy hair,” Plummer said.

Plummer advises those who are interested to get regular trims throughout the growing process in order to keep the hair healthy. How you style your hair should also be considered. Damage can occur to hair through heat, such as not using heat protectant when using flat irons etc.

“This will make your split ends worse especially if you don’t get regular trims,” Plummer said.

Overall, to grow hair out to the required minimum length of eight inches, it should take about a year. While that may seem like huge commitment, making it part of a new year’s resolution could make the goal that much easier.

“Carey and I would like it to be peoples new years resolution. This would be a great one to have on the list for the year,” Rosecrans said.

“It’s free to donate, you get to try different hairstyles, but most importantly you also have the satisfaction of knowing your helping someone’s self esteem,self image and someone who is going through a horrible life experience. A wig could make all the difference in their attitude,” Rosecrans continued.

When an individual has donated their hair, they receive a certificate and the volunteers at CWHL go to work opening the packages and separate the donation slips from the hair. The hair then gets separated into colors and lengths by another set of volunteers.

Once there is enough to fill up a box, the hair is shipped to a wig manufacturer who holds onto that hair until CWHL places an order. From there, the hair is shipped to the wig manufacturer to make hair replacements for the children.

As the new year kicks off, the Freer’s and Rosecrans are excited to see how many will add growing their hair out for Length for Strength and donate it at the end of the year. For the Freer’s, this is especially touching as the community continues to show their support for John.

“It shows us that there are people out there that care, and are willing to help you when you need it the most! That all of us are never alone,” Carey Freer said.

For Jiry, the chance to expand her ability to donate hair is rewarding but also helping her get through her own treatments.

“Being a kid and going through this experience – keeping positive and having goals made a big difference in my own recovery. Please make this possible for others by donating your hair,” Jiry said.

If you have question in regards to hair care give Alyssa a call at True Beauty 701-256-3399 or talk to your personal hair stylist.

To read more about the Children With Hair Loss organization check out their website at www.childrenwithhairloss.us.

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