This Saturday, Westlake-based Wigs for Kids will host its seventh annual Zoo Walk, 5K Run and Hair Cut-A-Thon at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. The event is sponsored by Family Heritage Life Insurance Company of America and features a 5K run, a one-mile fun run and hairstylists on site to cut the hair of those willing to donate to Wigs for Kids.
The day will include many activities for families that may not be participating in the race, such as games and a crafts table sponsored by Pat Catan’s. Light refreshments will be provided in the Pavilion Hut throughout the morning as well as door prizes and raffle prize drawings. WKYC TV-3 reporter Dave Summers has volunteered his time to emcee the event and will mingle with participants in the Zoo Walk throughout the morning.
“We are building self-esteem on both sides,” said Jeffery Paul, Wigs for Kids founder and chief executive officer. “When a child gives hair, the self-esteem of that child grows and they feel the sense of giving and how impactful it is on their own life. Hair is not only attached to the follicle, it’s attached to the self-image in the mirror. Even if the hair grows back, the mirror is still broken, and we try to take care of that mirror by making the child look themselves and live their life.”
Paul created Wigs for Kids 30 years ago when his niece came to him in tears with the news of her recent diagnosis of leukemia. At the time, Paul was a successful hairdresser and promised her that he would create a hairpiece that would not dislodge during her upcoming gymnastics tryout. After creating her hairpiece, Paul realized he was being called to help children in need, and he created the nonprofit organization Wigs for Kids.
The prosthesis is made completely of human hair and is hand-tied to make sure each piece looks like a child’s natural hair. Each hairpiece costs between $1,500 and $1,800, but it is at no cost to the family.
“The children who receive the high-quality, hand-stitched wigs can swim, do gymnastics and do anything else without the wigs falling off,” said Doreen Lazarus, Wigs for Kids volunteer. “This is because the wigs are custom-fitted and are very well-made.”
Stylists of LaBarberia Institute and Salon, located in Cleveland’s “Little Italy” area, have also volunteered their time to the event. Stylists will do “ponytail cuts” of guests who are willing to donate at least 12 inches of chemically unprocessed hair, and each hair donor will receive a free style and blow-dry.
Before the races commence, Susan Snider, local Jazzercise instructor, will lead participants through various Jazzercise exercises to warm up. Throughout the event there will be live performances, including young people from the Singing Angels and Wildfire Dance groups.
The Zoo Walk, 5K Run & Hair Cut-A-Thon will be held rain or shine. The event will be held at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo at 3900 Wildlife Way, Cleveland, with registration beginning at 7 a.m. The 5K run will begin at 8:30 a.m., and the starting time for the more leisurely one-mile “fun walk” is at 8:40 a.m.