SYLACAUGA – For 12-year-old Kayla Hogan, hair is very important.
A regular on the local pageant circuit, 2013 Young Miss Talladega County had been growing out her brown locks for more than two years. Long hair is, after all, the perfect accessory to any pageant look.
But last week, Hogan surprised her family when she dedicated her tress es to a bigger purpose. On Tuesday, she had 10 inches of hair cut off to help make a wig for her friend Anne Pruett, who is undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer.
“Out of all the peo ple who have donated hair, it means the most coming from Kayla,” said Pruett, owner of Spa H20 in downtown Sylacauga. “I’ve had several people cut their hair for me, and Kayla being the youngest, it really touched my heart. A 12-year-old wanting to do something like that, to know she has a heart the way that she does, is incredible.”
Hogan said she “wanted to do it because I knew (Pruett) was taking chemo, and I didn’t like her losing her hair. It feels good now, because she will have a wig.”
It all started in February when Pruett, 33 at the time, found a lump on her breast during a self-exam. A mammogram revealed it was late Stage 1 cancer. Pruett said she will under go six months of chemo and has opted to follow that with a double mas tectomy and breast recon struction. She has had two chemo treatments so far and experienced no side effects, she said, other than thinning hair.
“Everything has been better than I could have ever asked for,” Pruett said. “I feel like God is going to use me in a way to show other women that it could happen at any age. So many women come through (the salon) who may or may not check. I’m not old enough to even get an annual mammogram, but I check every month, because you just never know.”
Hogan’s grandmother, JoAnne Hogan-Timmons, said her granddaughter has followed Pruett’s can cer journey from the start and considered cutting her hair for several weeks before something happened that made up her mind for cer tain.
“It wasn’t until last week when we came (to Spa H2O) and Anne had her head wrap on,” Hogan-Timmons said. “Kayla was watching her, and I could see tears in her eyes, and as soon as we got home, she said she wanted to donate her hair to Anne.”
Hogan, the daughter of Joe and Sherry Hogan, arranged with her longtime hairdresser Shelly Patrick at Spa H20 to carry out her wishes. Patrick said there wasn’t a dry eye in the salon as she cut Hogan’s hair to shoulder length.
“It’s amazing that a child was willing to do something like that,” Patrick said. “It didn’t surprise me though, because Kayla is so selfless and such a well-rounded child. I made sure to keep her hair long enough to still put in a ponytail, but I don’t think she was even consid ering being long enough to pull back or style for pag eants. She’s not going to put herself first.”
Hogan-Timmons said after she and her grand daughter left the salon, Hogan seemed relieved.
“After we left, Kayla said, ‘I’m so glad I did that. I love my hair now too,’” Hogan-Timmons said. “And I told her the part I love about her hair is the part that’s left (at the salon) because it was given in love.”
Hogan said she missed her long hair at first, but she has adjusted to it after a few days. The short hair, she said, is cooler and easier to brush.
Pruett said she is send ing the hair, along with hair donated by four other friends, to a wig-making company that will have her wig ready in about a month. Pruett also cut off her own waist-long hair in April to make a partial wig that she can wear under her head wrap.
As for Hogan, she is confident her hair will grow back in time for pageants later this year. Her friends and family could not be prouder of her selfless act.
“She’s a good girl, and any concern she’s got is never about herself,” Patrick said. “There are just not a whole lot of kids like that."