A 10-year-old boy grew his hair for two years only to donate it to a friend who was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease causing hair loss on the scalp.
On Dec. 29, just a few days after Christmas, Gabby Ruiz cut her friend's hair — a 12-inch ponytail, which will be used as her wig.
A Friendly Gesture
Gabby was diagnosed with Alopecia areata when she was only four years old. The disease makes her immune system attack hair follicles and eventually cause hair loss.
After spending time with Gabby at family parties, Tyler — Gabby's younger friend — started wondering why she always kept her head covered.
Understanding what's happening to his friend, Tyler decided to grow his hair long and donate it to Gabby.
"We explained that Gabby had a condition that wouldn't let her grow hair. He said, 'Well, it's just hair, I can grow hair'," noted Jason Boone, Tyler's father.
The man also explained that it was entirely the boy's initiative to grow his hair long to help his friend and that his family had no say in this decision.
The girl's mother was the most impressed with Tyler's gesture.
"She's gone through so much and I think just being a mom and seeing another young kid wanting to help and be a part of something caring and selfless, I think it's very special. She's very quiet and to herself until she gets to know people," noted Gabby's mom, Emelia Ruiz.
It will take approximately six weeks for the wig to be made. The hair was donated to a nonprofit organization called Children With Hair Loss, and volunteers there will turn Tyler's hair into an extraordinary new year's present for Gabby.
"She's been comfortable with herself regardless, but she's at that age," Ruiz said. "She's about to be 13 and she wants something different. She's excited to try [the wig]," added the girl's mother.
The disease which affected Gabby's hair is causing approximately 6.8 million people across the United States to struggle with hair loss, and the lifetime risk of having this disease is 2.1 percent. The condition can affect people regardless of their sexes, or ages.
While it's usually triggered during childhood, it can also appear later in some cases, and it manifests differently. The hair loss can affect not only the hair on the scalp but the facial one as well, which can cause a different series of issues, especially for men.
The condition is, however, a little mysterious when it comes to its causes. Genetically speaking, both parents have to contribute to a number of genes in order to pass it to their children, which is why even if one of the parents suffers from this condition, there are really good chances the children will not be affected.
"With identical twins - who share all of the same genes - there's only a 55 percent chance that if one has alopecia areata, the other will, too. This is why scientists believe that it takes more than just genetics to cause the disease and that other environmental factors also contribute to people developing alopecia areata," notes the National Alopecia Areata Foundation website.