Vance youth give 'Locks of Love'

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Amanda Mills
  • Public Affairs
Two quick snips of the scissors and several of a mother's tears later, and it was done.
Catherine O'Bryan finally freed herself of 11 inches worth of weight from her head.
However, the 8-year-old's sacrifice Oct. 7 was not in vain, but in the hopes another child would welcome the wig fashioned from the hair.
Felicia O'Bryan, wife of Capt. Timothy O'Bryan, 71st Security Forces Squadron, was watching a television special about Locks of Love one afternoon. The non-profit organization provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children age 18 and younger who are suffering from long-term medical hair loss. Knowing her daughter Catherine wanted to cut her hair, Mrs. O'Bryan realized the organization could benefit as well.
"She was very excited to get her hair cut and help other children without hair at the same time," Mrs. O'Bryan said. "I wasn't quite ready to let it go however, so we decided to let it grow a little more. Now that she's about to start swimming on a YMCA swim team, we realized we should cut and donate the hair before it gets ruined."
There was also another reason for the date the family selected -- they wanted to all be present for Catherine's experience. Captain O'Bryan had just returned from four months of training with the Army, and left Sunday for Iraq for six months.
"She's a daddy's girl, so I couldn't miss this for the world," the captain said. "I'm glad I was here to see it."
The family selected the base barbershop to perform the procedure. Although Mrs. O'Bryan shed a few tears as she witnessed years of memories clipped from Catherine's head in two seconds, it was more for her pride in her daughter.
"Every inch was an inch from her mother's heart, but we're very proud of her," Captain O'Bryan said.
Catherine saw the opportunity as a win-win situation.
"I feel very good in helping other kids," she said. "It also felt good just to finally get a haircut."
Emily Suttles, daughter of Debbie and Chief Master Sgt. James Suttles, 71st Flying Training Wing command chief, has been growing her hair for a year and a half to donate it to Locks of Love.
"I heard about the program when my family was in Alabama," she said. "All my friends were doing it so I thought it would be nice to do it too."
The 11-year-old said she feels pretty good about helping and that the donation has been worth the wait.
"Other kids are losing their hair because of cancer, but if I give them mine they won't be bald and will seem normal to other kids," she said.
Miss Suttles plans to wait until about February and then get the haircut in Oklahoma City.
Locks of Love uses donated hair to create prosthetic wigs. Most of the children Locks of Love helps have lost their hair because of a condition called alopecia areata, which has no known cause or cure. People can donate hair, volunteer to help or make a financial donation. For more information, visit