When 11-year-old Cobie Koepenick found out his familyâ€™s friend, Grace, had cancer and lost her hair, he wanted to do something to help. Cobie, who lives in Urbana, let his hair grow for two years for Locks of Love, a not-for-profit organization that helps disadvantaged children who have lost their hair because of chemotherapy in treating cancer or other medical conditions and cannot afford a hair prosthetic.
Locks of Love helps children to regain their confidence and gives them a stronger sense of self with new hair. The organization provides hair prostheses to children in the United States and Canada for free or on a sliding scale fee, depending on their financial need. The retail price of hair prosthetics is between $3,500 and $6,000.
â€śItâ€™s been something heâ€™s really wanted to do,â€ť said his mother, Nicole, whose own mother had breast cancer.
â€śIt makes me feel really good,â€ť said Cobie, â€śknowing that youâ€™re helping someone with cancer who doesnâ€™t have any hair.â€ť
The experience of growing out his hair for Locks of Love has helped him to learn about cancer, said his mother.
â€śThis is the first time weâ€™ve ever done anything like this,â€ť said Nicole. â€śItâ€™s been very satisfying.â€ť
Donations of hair in a ponytail or braid need to be at least 10 inches long in order for Locks of Love to accept them, because in the process of making a hairpiece, up to 2 inches of hair are lost. The majority of kids who receive hairpieces are girls, who usually want long hair.
Cobie will probably get his hair cut in this month or next. Nicole said she recently took out the ruler and measured Cobieâ€™s hair, which is now about 10 inches long.
When asked about his experience with growing out his hair, Cobie said that it made summers incredibly hot. However, having long hair is an advantage in the winter, he said, because he does not have to wear a hat. Cobie also said his friends sometimes tease him and tell him he looks like a girl with his long hair, but he knows they are only joking. Overall, his friends have been supportive of his efforts to help Locks of Love.
Nicole said she hopes that Cobieâ€™s experience of growing out his hair will help to bring more awareness to Locks of Love. She said she also hopes Cobieâ€™s story will inspire other kids to donate their own hair to help people with cancer. â€śItâ€™s really easy to help,â€ť she said.
In school, Cobieâ€™s favorite subjects are science and math. He also likes to go swimming, play with friends, and do yard work for his dad. This summer, Cobie plans to spend time at the hospital to visit cancer patients.
â€śMy whole family is really happy with what heâ€™s doing,â€ť Nicole said. â€śItâ€™s such a great feelingâ€ť to know that her son is making a difference in the lives of people with cancer who have lost their hair.
To donate hair or give a financial donation to Locks of Love, contact the organization by calling 561.833.7332 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.