WAHOO, Neb. (AP) — Rich Joy was his sister’s hero.
“Ever since I was a baby, I always looked up to him,” mentioned Sally Klein of Wahoo. “He was always so sweet to me and he was always there whenever I needed him.”
It was tough when her brother died of most cancers in 2018.
Klein’s household had one other powerful blow in February 2019, when her cousin, Erica Step, died of most cancers.
The Fremont Tribune stories that this week, Klein pays tribute to her family members in a singular method.
She’s donating her hair to Locks of Love, a nonprofit group that accepts these donations to make wigs for youngsters in want with medical situations which have induced them to lose their hair.
At 55, Klein is aware of her hair donation is uncommon since most donors are youthful.
But within the final 15 years, she’s donated her hair 4 occasions to organizations that present wigs to individuals who want them.
And she’s planning to do it once more.
Klein’s hair-growing endeavors started in 2005, when her brother Bill Joy mentioned he’d donated blood for certainly one of his spouse’s family who had leukemia. Klein wished to donate however wasn’t ready to as a result of she’d simply given start to her youngest son, Joseph.
“I didn’t know what to do, but I wanted to do something,” Klein mentioned.
About a month later, Klein was getting a haircut in Omaha when the stylist requested if she’d ever thought-about donating her hair.
At that point, Klein’s ponytail was about 7½ inches lengthy, simply in need of the 10-inch minimal.
So Klein determined to continue to grow her hair and donate it within the leukemia affected person’s honor.
She donated 10½ inches to Locks of Love, which despatched a postcard of thanks. The card mentioned most recipients undergo from an autoimmune illness known as alopecia areata. Other recipients are most cancers survivors, victims of trauma resembling burns and kids with different dermatological situations. The wigs are given freed from cost.
That time, Klein’s hair was reduce pretty quick.
“I had two young boys (Michael and Joseph), so short hair wasn’t a bad thing,” she mentioned.
Klein’s hair started to develop once more when certainly one of her Omaha pals, Janet Henry, was combating breast most cancers and misplaced all her hair throughout chemotherapy.
Klein determined to develop her hair and donate it in her good friend’s honor.
“She was modest and a little embarrassed that I was doing it on her behalf, but she was very pleased,” Klein mentioned.
By that point, Klein was going to Styles Unlimited in Fremont. There, her stylist Denise Taylor talked about that Pantene was accepting hair donations via its Beautiful Lengths program, which supplies free, real-hair wigs to girls dwelling with most cancers.
The minimal donation was eight inches. So in 2007, Klein donated 8½ inches of hair to Beautiful Lengths. Her good friend had 4 remissions, however her most cancers saved returning and after a 15-year combat she misplaced her battle.
While she first donated in her good friend’s honor, Klein then determined to make one other donation — this time in her good friend’s reminiscence.
So she donated 16 inches of hair to Beautiful Lengths in 2014.
That was going to be Klein’s final donation.
She figured she was getting an excessive amount of grey hair.
But because it grew longer, Klein realized she had sufficient hair to donate once more.
She returned to Locks of Love, which takes donations of coloured, permed and grey hair in good situation. What it may well’t use, it sells to offset manufacturing prices.
Klein’s hair was rising when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
“I couldn’t get my hair cut and it really grew a lot,” Klein mentioned.
By the time Klein went to donate her hair on Aug. 28, it had grown previous her waistband.
“It was very heavy and very hot,” Klein mentioned, including that she was carrying her hair in ponytails and French braids.
Klein’s hair was layered with some layers being longer than others. When her hair was reduce, it was divided into little ponytails ranging in size from 10 to 113/four inches lengthy.
She’s put the hair right into a plastic bag, which she’ll mail this week to Locks of Love in Lake Worth, Florida.
Some women and girls are unhappy after they get their hair reduce.
But not Klein.
“I know there’s going to be some child who’s going to get a new wig who’s going to look really cute with my hair,” Klein mentioned.
Klein’s donations will probably be in reminiscence of her brother, Rich, and cousin, Erica.
Her brother was a fun-loving, loyal and devoted household man and an enormous Husker fan. Growing up, Klein and her brother performed completely different sports activities of their household’s big entrance yard.
He had a level in accounting and was in administration in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He had simply turned 57 years outdated when he died in October 2018 of pancreatic most cancers. He died 4 months after he was recognized.
Klein’s cousin, Erica Step, was recognized with abdomen most cancers after Christmas 2018 and died 41 days afterward Feb. 12, 2019. She was 44 years outdated.
“Family hadn’t really come to grips with my brother’s death when we lost Erica,” Klein mentioned.
Step was an elementary schoolteacher, who lived in a suburb of Dallas.
“She was very kind, very sweet,” Klein mentioned. “She really loved kids and working with kids and had a really good sense of humor, a funny girl, always had a smile and was always there to help out.”