Photo Courtesy of Emily’s Family
Emily made her first hair donation when she was just 6 years old.
By Michael V. Cusenza
The story of a shy girl from Richmond Hill shedding her locks has led to many a listener shedding tears.
Nine-year-old Emily recently donated 13 inches of her beautiful black tresses to a borough-based group that creates wigs for children who are experiencing hair-loss due to cancer treatment therapies, alopecia, and other medical conditions.
Last month, while on break from school, the philanthropic fourth-grader and mom, Sherry, made an appointment with Gio Natalya VIP Salon & Spa on Liberty Avenue so Emily could have her hair cut by a professional to secure the locks for donation to Butterflies By Blaq Incorporated – the 501(c)(3) St. Albans nonprofit organization which provides free hair replacements and solutions for kids in need.
“I wanted to do it because my hair is very long and I wanted to give it to kids with cancer, because they’re suffering a lot,” Emily told The Forum on Tuesday.
Founded in 2012 by Madame EJ Blackman, with the assistance of co-founder, Kaiya Blackman, Butterflies BBI was established to address the needs of children suffering from hair loss due to medical conditions and treatments. According to the organization, special consideration is given to inner-city children because “they are often a group that has been greatly overlooked due to the special needs of their hair.”
“Our goal is to help restore normalcy in addition to promoting a sense of well-being to our clients while they deal with their personal illnesses and conditions,” the group said. “We know that raising the self-esteem of our disadvantaged youth now, can help brighten their futures and we’d like to be given the chance to help lighten their load and make a difference.”
This isn’t the first time Emily and her hair have made a difference. After seeing a TV commercial for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Emily tugged at her mom’s hand, insisting that she had to help.
At the time, Emily was several weeks shy of her sixth birthday.
“My daughter gets ‘it,’” Sherry said. “She’s a genuine, caring kid.”
So three years ago Emily had 13 inches of hair cut off and donated to the Wigs for Kids charity.
Founded in 1981 by Certified Cosmetic Therapist Jeffrey Paul, Wigs for Kids is a cooperative effort among Certified Cosmetic Therapists throughout North America who share a common goal, according to Paul.
“Children shouldn’t have to worry about how they look, especially when they’re in the middle of a health crisis,” Paul said. “We want to give these kids the opportunity to feel good about themselves again.”
Asked where she thinks Emily got her charitable spirit, Sherry believes it’s all in the family.
“My dad is a wonderful, amazing person. Because of him we have great ideals and values,” she said of her dad, Ameer. “So I learned service from him.”
And that altruism has been passed down to Emily.
“Everybody who knows her knows that even though she’s only 9, she’s so nurturing and caring,” Sherry added. “I personally think in Emily’s lifetime she’s going to do a lot of amazing things.”
For more information on Butterflies BBI, visit butterfliesbbi.org. And for more information on Wigs for Kids, log on to wigsforkids.org.