Imagine that your young child suddenly lost an alarming amount of hair. As a parent, your mind would likely reel with possibilities, leaving you desperate for answers. Only parents whose children have been diagnosed with alopecia areata — an incurable autoimmune disorder that can cause sudden, unpredictable hair loss — will understand the roller coaster of emotions.
Dayton Parent spoke to Melissa King, organizer of The Bare Hair 5K, to learn how she hopes to spread awareness and raise funds for the fight against alopecia.
What prompted you to start The Bare Hair 5K?
My daughter was diagnosed with alopecia at age 4. We had never heard of her diagnosis before and didn’t know anyone else with it. I felt like I had to do something. Since I am a runner, I thought it would be fun to host a 5K to raise awareness. More than anything, I wanted my daughter to see others with her condition. She had lost almost all of her hair by race day and I remember telling her, “Look at all the beautiful bald heads!”
The first 5K was so awesome, we decided to make it an annual event! We have hosted families from many different states and made lots of friends. Alopecia can be very scary and traumatic in ways we don’t always acknowledge. Having friends who are going through the same thing means so much. As a mom, my heart broke for my daughter, but to see others who were doing well helped me to know that we would be OK.
What are your goals for the 5K?
This is our 5th anniversary, so we are hoping to make it the biggest and best year yet! We raised over $20,000 in our first four years and hope to raise a record amount this year. We also hope to spread the word about the 5K to surrounding communities. We have met so many people from our area with alopecia, but we know there are many more we haven’t reached yet.
Being able to share the ups and downs of this journey with others is vital. After the 5K, families can stay for lunch and get to know each other. We are excited to raise money to fight alopecia, but we are even more excited to form friendships with other families to support and encourage one another.
How can readers support The Bare Hair 5K, even if they aren’t runners?
We have both runners and walkers at our race. I would say the majority of people are walkers, although we have prizes for the top three finishers. We are always in need of sponsors, either businesses or individuals. Sponsors get recognition through our flyers, social media sites and T-shirts. Readers can also make donations on our website.
To register for The Bare Hair 5K on April 25, 2020 or to learn how to become a donor or sponsor, visit getmeregistered.com/TheBareHair5K.