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July 30, 2010 > Nineteen inches of hair to share

Nineteen inches of hair to share

By Alissa Gwynn
Photos By Tiana Mack

"I've always wanted to help people, and this is a way to help people when I'm little," said eight-year-old Liauna Mack, referring to her 19-inch ponytail that she is donating to Locks of Love, a non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to children suffering from medical hair loss. After growing her hair for the majority of her life, Liauna finally took the plunge and had it cut last Friday on her eighth birthday.

So how does a little girl get the idea to donate her hair? It all started approximately two years ago, when Liauna's "Noni," Shelly Mack, wanted to do something memorable for her 50th birthday. "I thought long and hard and decided that I wanted to donate my very long hair," Shelly said. "Unfortunately, they do not accept bleached hair and I had remnants of blonde streaks throughout my hair."

However, when Liauna overheard this, she told her mother, Tiana Mack, and Noni that she would like to donate her hair. Although she already had the required length of hair at age six (at that time it was 12 inches, and has since been reduced to 10 inches), she decided that she would continue growing out her hair so that she would have more to give.

Shelly emphasizes that donating her hair was entirely Liauna's choice. "We [Tiana and Shelly] told her to tell us when she was ready to donate her hair," Shelly said. "She has always been a kind, helpful little girl." Liauna says she wasn't nervous at all, and that she never had any thoughts about backing out. In fact, she says she is "going to help lots of people" as a surgeon when she grows up.

Locks of Love was created in 1998, and according to their Website "strives to help all financially disadvantaged children who are living with the daily trials of medical hair loss. Thousands of bundles of donated hair arrive as a result of the Internet and word of mouth as well as publicity Locks of Love receives in newspapers, magazines and on television programs."

It takes about six to ten ponytails to make a hairpiece, and retail price for these custom-fit caps with vacuum seal function is anywhere from $3,500 to $6,000. To be eligible for donation, hair must be 10 inches measured tip to tip, in a ponytail or braid before it is cut, be clean and completely dry before it is mailed in, and not bleached.

When Tiana heard that Liauna was going to donate her hair, she was relieved that her daughter's hair would be short and easier to care for. However, much to her dismay, Liauna informed her that she would be growing it out again so she could help as many children as possible.

To learn more about Locks of Love and becoming a donor, visit their website at www.locksoflove.org.

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