Little girl donates two feet of her hair in incredible sponsored charity chop
Young Stella Dance had a big appointment at the salon this summer, and came home with a lot less hair – 23 inches to be exact.
The 11-year-old, who lives with her family in Kent, underwent a big sponsored chop for charity on July 15, and has already surpassed her fundraising goal by more than £500.
Mum Kaye, who shares Stella with husband Mark, 43, tells Metro.co.uk this is the second time Stella’s done a big hair chop like this for charity, with the first time being when she was just six years old.
‘It all stemmed from an appointment that she had at Great Ormond Street Hospital,’ Kaye, who works as an administrator for a maintenance company, recalls, ‘where she saw other children going through different types of illnesses, whether it be cancer or alopecia.
‘As a young child, she would question why these kids didn’t have hair, and we explained it to her the best that we could.
‘From that moment, she was adamant that she wanted to cut her hair and donate it.’
And donate it she did.
Stella, who’s a little sister to Hope, aged 21, Josh, 18, Matthew, 17, and Lucais, 13, knows first-hand what it’s like to get support from a charity like this.
Stella was born with a genetic disorder called neurofibromatosis type 1, or NF1, which is a genetic condition that causes (usually benign) tumours to grow on a person’s nerves.
Kaye says that, at the moment, the condition is causing Stella to have a growth on her eye as well as a skull and eye socket deformity, and several tumours on her brain.
‘Around the eye area,’ the 39-year-old says, ‘it does cause her some pain, but she’s such a happy child that she doesn’t tend to allow much to really get to her.’
Stella was diagnosed when she was five after her family noticed she had a ‘kind of growth’.
Then, when she needed to undergo an operation in 2018, the Rays of Sunshine charity donated her a ‘wish’ after they heard about her condition and the charity chop she’d undertaken in the past.
Part of the process involves applying for one ‘big’ wish and two ‘smaller’ wishes, so that the charity can see about turning one into a reality.
Kaye said: ‘She put down that her big wish was to go to Disney. Wish two was to be a vet, and wish three was to be a guide dog trainer.
‘And they actually granted both two and three for her, so they very kindly sent her off to Maidstone Guide Dog Centre for the day, where she got to spend some time with trainers there, and some of the dogs.
‘Then they organised a load of trainers to come in with some puppies for training. She got to go out and actually train with a trainer, and they showed her how a guide dog can help assist out in public.
‘On day two, they took her down to Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, where she got to shadow a vet for the day. It was amazing, such a magical day for her, I don’t think any of us stopped smiling.
‘They said that it was quite a unique wish, and that they haven’t had anyone make one like that before. So that was absolutely amazing.’
This is why, the second time Stella grew her hair long enough for a big fund-raising chop, she wanted to donate nearly two feet of her hair to one charity and raise funds separately for Rays of Sunshine too.
‘From that moment she was just so happy, and she had such a wonderful time and really got into understanding what the Rays of Sunshine do for really unwell children.’ said Kaye.
‘She was adamant that she was going to regrow her hair for the second time and donate it to the Little Princess Trust, but have the funds donated to Rays of Sunshine to help other children have more wishes like she did.’
People can get understandably quite emotional when they go through a big hair change, but Stella’s been cool as a cucumber about it.
‘The whole week she was so excited,’ recalls Kaye. ‘Every day she was getting up, and counting down.’
When asked what her daughter thinks of going back to a short hairdo, Kaye tells us: ‘She’s absolutely in love with it.
‘I’d say she’s looking forward to trying out different types of hairstyles that she can do with it with clips and other bits and pieces.
‘And she’s already informed us that she’s going to grow it again for a third time.’
At the time of writing, Stella’s JustGiving page shows that she’s already surpassed her fundraising goal of £1,000 by a very impressive £516 – and donations are still very much open.
‘Everything we’re getting now is just pure bonus,’ says Kaye.
‘You can do so much wonder through the charity – not just in wishes, but it can provide equipment to seriously ill children, or something as amazing as making a child’s garden wheelchair accessible, so they can have normality.
‘Just knowing what this money is going to do, it’s just amazing.’
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