By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter
Shrewsbury – Losing one’s hair can be devastating, no matter what the cause. When it is a child that loses their hair, it can be even more traumatic. Abigail Blanchard (Abby), 7, suffers from alopecia, an autoimmune skin disease resulting in the loss of hair on the scalp and elsewhere on the body.
Abby’s grandparents, Paula and Jim Buonomo of Shrewsbury, are asking for help with a fundraiser for kids like Abby through the Children’s Alopecia Project (CAP), an international non-profit dedicated to supporting kids living with all forms of Alopecia, building self-esteem and raising awareness about the life-altering disease.
Alopecia usually starts with one or more small, round, smooth patches on the scalp and can progress to total scalp hair loss (Alopecia Totalis) or complete body hair loss (Alopecia Universalis). There is no current cure, but in some cases, treatments are available.
The fundraiser will be held at the Adams Farm in Walpole, Saturday, Oct. 20, and will include a 5K Fun Run/Walk, raffle and silent auction.
The Buonomos are asking for raffle and silent auction items, gift cards, baskets, museum passes, etc., for this event that attracts about 500 participants from across the commonwealth.
Abby was just 5 years old when she was diagnosed with Alopecia Totalis in 2016. Abby and her mother Megan traveled to Boston once a month to Boston Children’s Hospital Pediatric Dermatology Department while she was on a treatment plan. The hope was that her hair would grow back, however, her disease has now progressed to Alopecia Universalis.
“She has no hair at all. She has even now lost eyelashes and brows. Since there is no cure and no lasting treatments, they have decided to go the route of acceptance and building Abby into a self-confident and happy child, and she is!” Paula Buonomo stated.
“Our main focus has been and will continue to be on Abby’s self-confidence,” Megan Blanchard said. “If asked by a stranger, regarding her hair loss, Abby will boldly state, ‘It’s just hair.’ Or, ‘I have alopecia. I’m allergic to my hair.’ We attribute this to our community support, family and friends and the Children’s Alopecia Project.”
Meanwhile Abby continues to live life. She is now a second grader in Westford and loves dance and singing in the back of the family minivan. She also enjoys Minecraft with her father and creating art projects. She plays soccer on Saturdays and dress up with Katie, her sister.
“Anyone that knows Abby, can attest to her fighting spirit. As her parents, we’ve followed her lead and taken on this fighter spirit by educating our community about Alopecia and not allowing this stage of life to define who Abby will become,” Blanchard noted.