“It makes me feel amazing to know that someone else will be able to have hair just as I do.”
Olivia Bradley recently donated another 11 inches of her beautiful, thick long hair to be made into wigs for individuals fighting cancer. For Olivia, the haircuts by Heather Michaels at The Hairport are something she and her mom can do together to help other kids.
This was Olivia’s third donation of her long locks in the past four years and this time it was all her idea.
“Olivia’s first two donations were not her idea,” admits her mother, Shandi Bradley. “She had so much thick hair I had a hard time managing her hair. A good friend, Nita Tomsheck, along with several of our aunties were going through breast cancer treatments which gave me the initial idea of donating my and Olivia’s hair,” explained Shandi.
“There’s a sense of helplessness when your loved ones are forced to deal with the cruelties of cancer. Though a small gesture, gifting your hair to others makes you feel like you’re doing something to support the brave souls who battle cancer so courageously,” she shared.
Olivia was seven at the time and in second grade. Her hair stylist, Heather Michaels, cut off a full foot, yes, 12 inches of Olivia’s hair. Her mom said Olivia wasn’t thrilled to have her hair cut off. Shandi also donated eight inches of her own hair that first time.
Two years later, Olivia donated another 11 inches, but Shandi’s hair wasn’t quite long enough. “I wasn’t able to join her as the minimum to donate is eight inches.”
Once again, Olivia wasn’t happy about having to cut her hair.
Recently, Olivia let Heather cut off another 11 inches of her hair on the eve of her twelfth birthday. This time, though, it was Olivia who approached her mom with the idea of donating her hair to help those who don’t have any.
“I thought it was a great idea,” said Shandi, “especially since it was her idea! Olivia said looking back, Nita’s cancer treatments did have an affect on her.”
Shandi surprised Olivia and donated her hair since her’s was long enough this time. She donated another eight inches.
Together this mother-daughter duo has donated 50 inches of their hair to the Children With Hair Loss program.
According to Heather, “The Children With Hair Loss program is a great program. Kids get the wigs for free. Most other programs the kids and their family have to pay for the wigs.”
Olivia, who is blessed with very thick but heavy hair, shared, “I was too young to understand the value of my previous donations, but I’m older now and I see the value of helping others in need. I’d hope others would help me out,” she reasoned.
What was the reaction of her classmates when they saw Olivia with her new “do?”
“My friends were surprised by my haircuts,” she smiled. “I went from being the kid with long hair to a kid with short hair. I think my friends were shocked.”
Olivia hasn’t always had such an easy time growing her hair. “I was bald until I was three-years-old but then my hair really started to grow! The longest my hair has ever been is to the middle of my bottom.”
Olivia’s classmates aren’t the only ones who have to adjust to her having shorter hair. So does she. “When I get my hair cut it feels so light, like it’s not even there at all!” exclaimed Olivia. “I definitely use much less conditioner!”
“I would greatly encourage others to donate their hair because if you had cancer, wouldn’t you want the opportunity to have a beautiful wig to make you feel better?” encouraged Olivia. “Some day I hope to have the opportunity to say I know many individuals who have donated their hair. That would make me super happy!”
“We definitely feel that this is a special mother-daughter tradition and as long as our hair keeps growing, we hope to be able to continue to donate,” said Shandi.