By Starrla Cray
DELANO, MN In the past two years, 12-year-old Ally Frake lost two close family members to cancer, but instead of feeling sorry for herself, she set out to make life better for others.
“Ally’s very compassionate,” said Ally’s mother, Erika. “She has a great deal of empathy.”
Ally, a sixth grader at Delano Middle School, recently donated 11 inches of her shiny, golden-blonde hair to Locks of Love, a non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children suffering from long-term medical hair loss.
“Ever since my aunt and grandmother passed away, I wanted to donate my hair,” Ally said.
Ally’s aunt (Erika’s sister), Paula Johnson of Robbinsdale, died Jan. 21, 2009, after a 16-year battle with cancer.
“She had repeated episodes of cancer, going out of remission about every four years,” Erika said. “Ever since Ally was little, she was familiar with Paula’s ‘wig phases,’ where she would lose her hair.”
Ally’s grandmother (Erika’s mother), Joan Kluge of Ames, IA, passed away about six months later.
“It had been a long battle for both of them,” Erika said. “During the cancer process, Ally was concerned with what she could do make it better and make a difference.”
Johnson’s youngest daughter, Claire, has given her hair to Locks of Love in the past, and Ally decided it was something she would like to do, as well.
According to the Locks of Love website, the minimum length needed for a hairpiece is 10 inches. Shorter hair donations are sold to offset manufacturing costs.
“Ally was determined to grow it that little bit extra to make sure it could be used for an actual wig,” Erika said.
After a nearly two-year commitment, Ally’s hair was nearly down to her waist.
Overall, Ally said she liked having long hair, but it was sometimes difficult to keep neat and tangle-free.
“It would keep getting snarly,” she said.
“It was hard on occasion,” Erika added. “She’d get a little teary-eyed trying to brush through it.”
‘So long’ to long hair
When the time came for Ally to go to Kids’ Hair in Minnetonka, she had mixed feelings.
“I was so nervous to get it cut, because I liked playing with my hair and putting it in ponytails,” Ally said.
“She has thick, gorgeous, curly hair, and I was a little bit worried what she’d think when she got it cut,” Erika added.
But after seeing her two 11-inch pigtails ready to help a child in need, Ally knew she made the right decision.
“I’m going to try to keep on doing it,” Ally said.
Her two younger sisters, Annabel, 10, and Ella, 6, are also hoping to donate their hair when it gets long enough.
Erika said Ally loved spending time with her aunt and grandmother, and donating her hair was a way to honor them.
“We are just an extremely close family,” Erika said. “They always did tea parties together.”
Locks of Love has hairpiece recipients in all 50 states and Canada. To learn more, go to www.locksoflove.org.