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Sunday, June 16
The Indiana Daily Student

sports men's soccer

Sophomore forward donates to Locks of Love

Mike Berticelli Tournament

Fifteen-year-old Moriah Hill of Lindale, Texas, has not been able to grow hair since she was 4 years old.  

Sophomore men’s soccer forward Alec Purdie runs the pitch at Bill Armstrong Stadium – 835 miles away – with eight inches of hair tightly pulled back in a blonde ponytail.

Hill has Alopecia Universalis, an autoimmune disease that prohibits the body from growing hair. She lives in a small town of slightly more than 5,000 people.
Purdie has one goal on the year. He enters his second postseason at a school with about 38,000 students.

Hill is home-schooled and involved with her youth group.

Purdie comes off the bench as a crucial part of the Hoosier offensive attack.

The two have never met, but when Purdie grows a full 10 inches and cuts off his hair this summer, they will be connected in a cause bigger than either of them.

Purdie is donating his hair to Locks of Love, a not-for-profit organization that provides prosthetic hairpieces to individuals like Hill who are unable to grow hair.

“As long as it is now, I figured I might as well grow it out for another year or so for a good cause and give it to someone who doesn’t have hair,” Purdie said. “I thought I might as well help somebody out.”

Hill said life was hard for the three years that she was completely without hair.

“Kids didn’t understand why I didn’t have hair, but I tried to make the best of it,” said Hill, who has had two prosthetic hairpieces donated by Locks of Love since the age of 13. “It was hard going out to Wal-Mart or something and getting looks and stares. They would say, ‘I’m so sorry you have cancer.’ They didn’t get it.”

Purdie said he started growing his hair out in March of his senior year at Elkhart Central High School, two years before he ultimately decided to donate it.  

“I shaved it completely and have been growing it out since,” he said.
Lauren Kukkamaa, Locks of Love communications director, said Purdie’s donation will be one of six to 10 that will make up one prosthetic hairpiece.

“You’re giving of yourself and you’re not having to raise money,” Kukkamaa said. “People latch on to the giving of hair. It doesn’t matter what age, status or socioeconomic situation. Anyone can give.”

Kukkamaa said each prosthetic hairpiece is custom-made to fit the recipient’s head so it will not fall off, and each hair is inserted one by one. A hairpiece can be made up of 150,000 strands.  

Purdie said his donation has personal roots.

“I’ve seen people walking around campus, on TV and have had family members who have had cancer who don’t have hair,” Purdie said. “So I just thought I might as well do it for a good cause. Instead of just shaving it off and wasting it, you might as well help someone out.”

Although Purdie will most likely never know whom he is helping out, Hill said the gesture will not go unnoticed.  

“It means a lot, coming from someone who hasn’t had my own hair since I was four,” she said. “So often people take it for granted. But when people want to cut it off and send it in and change girls’ lives like mine, it’s really amazing.”

Purdie has two years remaining to chase championships at IU, but he knows that his gesture in six months will last a lifetime for whoever receives it.

Hill is proof of that.

“I know that so many times you can say thank you, but it really doesn’t mean enough,” she said. “Having my wig, it’s made a life change. I’ve been more confident in myself and who I’ve become. My self-confidence has really come back, and I know I am beautiful.”

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