A letter sent to the Today Show, by Holly Hafen, one of the original founders and biggest supporters of "Hats and Hair from Kids who Care," from the very beginning. [dated May 24, 2007.]
Can a 10 year old change the world? I absolutely think that she can. One child at a time. The reason I am emailing, is that my life, and the lives of so many others, have been changed for good by one 10 year old girl, Chase Savanna Burch. After a few weeks of severe headaches, and flu like symptoms, Chase was taken to the hospital by her concerned parents in early March, and received an alarming diagnosis. It was a rare, malignant, but operable brain tumor, which she had removed days later. After the initial scare of brain surgery was completed, Chase was sent off, with her mother by her side, to St. Jude Research hospital, in Memphis, Tennessee, where she would begin the grueling treatment process. Being separated from her Dad and two younger siblings for such an extended time was no doubt very difficult for Chase, and also her mother, Season Burch. However, Chase was able to fight through the hard times with unbelievable strength and faith.
While at St. Jude, friends at home in California were brainstorming how they could help Chase, who had now lost her hair due to the treatments she was receiving. One friend offered to cut her hair, for a wig for Chase. In all honesty, I had the same thought, hundreds of miles away, in Southern Utah.
When her parents sat down with Chase, to see how she would feel about the idea of friends at her school putting together a personal fundraiser for her to have a wigs, her response was, "I think that is very, very, thoughtful. But I think there are kids who need those things a lot more than I do." She then explained that she already has two wigs and sees so many kids without anything.
So after talking this over, Chase and her family then began to brainstorm what they could do, that would both help Chase out and make her feel like she is helping those around her as well. In the words of Chase's mother, "From personal experience we know what a loss it is to watch yourself, or someone you love lose their hair. For a child that already feels like their illness is setting them apart from their peers, it is also the physical reminder of this. But through a little experimenting on our own, we have actually come up with a simple, comfortable and inexpensive solution that has worked really well for our Chase.
As you know, wigs can be costly and they can also be uncomfortable and hot to wear for a child. (Especially here in Memphis where it gets hot and humid, or back in California, where our Children's Hospital is located.) Almost as an after thought, while we are at the wig shop, I boufht a set of two hair clips for about $30.00 with a cute poof of hair attached to each clip. When we got back to the hopital, I clipped one on to one of her baseball caps like a ponytail and showed Chase what I had done.
She has two beautiful wigs, and yet this is the all that she seems to want to wear. For one thinks, it looks so natural that even people at the hospital are surprised that it is not her own hair - and it is a s comfortable as simply wearing a hat! It is so wonderful for Chase not to have to put on her wig and to be able to go anywhere, without having to be constantly reminded that she is going through all this! As we walk around these halls, we realize how great the need is, for for somthing that can help these children forget about their illness, if even for a moment. The nurses heare are constantly telling Chase that they love her idea for a hat with hair and have never seen it done before. When we heard this, we were completely amazed that we could give so much back to a child, for just the cost of one hair piece and one hat!!!"
Chase gave away her other clip she had to a girl who was also losing her hair, and her mother has been purchasing the clips, as many as she can, from the wig shop to give out to friends they have made at St. Jude. Seeing the remarkable diference that this simple creation makes in the life of a child has relly motivated me and Season and many others who have expressed the desire to help.
My response [to a reporter] who asked what is driving me in my effort to help with this cause was, "The answer really comes down to the unselfishness of one ten year old girl. In a society that places great value on me, me, me, and what I need-- for her to show concern and be thinking of how she could help others in the midst of all her and her family was going through, is nothing short of inspiring. How could I not do everything I can to help he in this effort? Her compassion and desire to give, is what drives me."
The charitable idea that brought forth Hats and Hair was inspired by Chase Savanna Burch and her family, but without the incredible efforts of Holly Hafen, Oak Grove Elementary school and many others, "Hats and Hair" would not be here today.