Who is your hero?

Last weekend I helped with an Operation Military Kids Day in Baltimore, MD for the families of recently returned soldiers (or heroes, as I like to call them). It was an honor and a pleasure to be a part of this day, and get to know some truly wonderful kids. Several of them had to go a year without seeing their mom and/or dad. Many of the soldiers missed Christmas, their children's birthdays, and several more simple times we often take for granted like their children's first karate class, first book report, first homecoming dance and many more.

It is incredible what these heroes are willing to sacrifice for our freedom, our safety and our future. I have been studying literature of the 1960's and have learned a great deal about the poor treatment of soldiers upon their return from the war. I am so thankful that there are organizations and programs that are devoted to honoring our veterans of the past and present, to let them know that even if we may not agree with war, we are thankful for their bravery.

Often we honor the veterans for their heroic acts, but it is important that we recognize the bravery of the families they must leave behind, as well. At the risk of sounding cliche, one of my greatest role models and personal heroes is my mother. She not only is the spouse of a veteran who almost became a widow while stationed in Germany, but every day she works toward bettering the lives of the families of our soldiers. As the Program Coordinator for the Operation Military Kids in Delaware she facilitates programs, retreats and activities for the children of our heroes serving overseas and on American soil. It is easy to forget that while a soldier is risking their life in a foreign country, that their children and spouses are also sacrificing each and every day.

Last weekend I was able to speak to the teens and tweens about what life was like while their parents were gone, and what life has been like since their return. Many of these young children had to learn to cook, clean, take care of their younger siblings, give up some of their favorite activities and simply grow up. Some lived in fear that they might not see their parents again. Some shared that they even wished for their parents to come home every time they saw 11:11. They, too, were battling and because of that- every single military child is a hero in my book.

So today I ask you- What makes a hero? Because I have seen heroes come in a million different packages. Some negotiate peace treaties with foreign countries; some are brave enough to tell their classmates they wear a wig because they have Alopecia; some are brave enough to get back on the basketball court even though this time, it is in a wheelchair; and some help their dad make dinner because their mother is fighting in Iraq.

Have a blessed day everyone!

It's just hair!


Hello Friends,

I found this story online, about a young boy who was suspended from school because of the length of his hair. And I am completely surprised that schools still have such strict policies on something as meaningless as hair. When I was 11 and diagnosed with Alopecia Areata, my parents looked into registering me at a private school in our area. To our surprise, I was not allowed to be admitted because of the length (or lack thereof) of my hair! Women apparantly had to keep their hair shoulder length, among many other things. I was secretly thrilled that I was going to be staying in public school and I took no offense to the rules in which I could not meet. But the older I get, the more I wonder why it really matters. It's just hair!

I completely understand why schools need to be concerned with the quality of the education and experience for each of their students. And I agree that every child should be held accountable for their decisions and that every one should be equal. However, the length of a person's hair has nothing to do with their ability to learn, and it will likely never affect the abilities of their fellow students. It is unfair to keep a child from expressing themselves in the best ways they see fit, if it is not harming another student. I understand mohawks, and braids and color-dyed hair (among many other things) are associated with "risky behavior" because I have worked with children in "at-risk" situations. It just concerns me when institutions try to force a child to fit into a specific box that they may not feel comfortable with.

I pray that this child and his family are comfortable with the agreement that they have come to, and that he is not kept from learning, because of the length of his hair, any longer. And for those of you out there who have hair (sorry Alopecians!) I ask you this- Does you hair represent who you are?

Have a blessed day everyone!

The Beginning

Hello Friends,

I have been encouraged, for quite some time, to create a blog. Having been a Communications major, I've met quite a few bloggers and I've seen just how relevant it has become!
I found out today that an amazing young woman, named Rachel, won the Martin Luther King Jr. Essay contest in her town! I am so proud of her, and I am honored to have been called her hero in her essay. My life has truly been changed because of the young women, and men, I have met in my travels talking about Alopecia. And I have been blessed to get to know each of them and to be given the opportunity to share my story.
Rachel is a 6th grader from New Jersey, who I met last year when I spoke at the "Let Your Hair Down Event" (see http://www.letyourhairdown.org/). She has Alopecia, just like me, and she is so beautiful, inside and out! If you could read the essay she wrote, you would be amazed- she is very talented! I am so proud of Rachel for not only how well her essay was written, but for winning the whole contest! She rocks :)

Lately, I have been keeping very busy with the holidays! In November, I was asked to speak once again at the "Let Your Hair Down Event" in NJ. My mother and I had a blast, and the fundraiser was a huge success! I was able to get to know Joe Sernio ( see http://www.joesernio.com/) who is a very talented, and personable actor on All My Children!

I have started a new job at Barbizon, a new semester in college, and I have many exciting things in the near future! So stay tuned for the good things to come :)