Howard Lake Herald, October 5, 1998

Local girl cuts hair for Locks of Love

Some of her friends didn't even recognize her.

The common reaction was "Why did you do it?"

Eleven-year-old Valerie Westerman of Howard Lake recently had 18 inches of her hair cut off to be donated to Locks of Love, an organization providing hairpieces for children with long-term medical hair loss.Valerie before

A relative had read about the organization in another paper so Valerie's mother, Leona, went to the library and checked it out.

"We have some relatives who died of cancer and we just wanted to do this," Leona said.

So the decision was made.

Valerie had never had an actual haircut before, just trims to keep her hair neat. Before the cutting, Valerie could sit on her hair. Even with the 18 inches removed, she still has hair past her shoulders.

Donna's Salon of Howard Lake donated services for the shampoo, dry, and cut. Stylist Michelle Hofer said Valerie's hair became thicker and bouncier after the cutting because there wasn't so much weight pulling it down.Valerie after

So while Valerie's friends are getting used to her new look, it also means some changes for Valerie as well.

One of them is drinking out of a fountain. Before, all she had to do was drink; now, her hair falls into the way.

Also, she is now able to do more styling with barrettes and clips.

Valerie's long hair was getting to be just too much for her to take care of by herself, her mother said. The shorter hair will also be more comfortable when Valerie's class makes the trip to Deep Portage in northern Minnesota later this year.

Cut to match what her bangs were, this will be as short as Valerie's hair gets, she said.

Still, she has no second thoughts about getting her hair cut, and she would encourage other kids to do it also.

Locks of Love is a not-for-profit organization in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., providing quality hair prosthetics for children under 18 who have developed long-term medical hair loss. The hair prosthetics are provided free or on a sliding scale to deserving children whose parents or guardians can prove financial hardship.

Locks of love can be reached at toll-free 1-888-896-1588, or

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