Most parents document their child’s first haircut.
In the case of a 3-year-old Wapakoneta girl, her parents are using it to help others.
“I’m getting my hair cut for kids without hair,” Merecedes Wren says matter-of-factly.
The blonde-haired blue-eyed girl clinged to her uncle as she sat in the lobby, tucking her face into his neck as she shies away from strangers entering Great Clips in Wapakoneta.
Her small face breaks into a wide smile as her grandfather and his fiancée enter through the front door of the hair salon Friday afternoon. She whispers to family members that her first hair cut is going for a good cause.
Her parents, Kylie and Mark Wren, explained it to her days before and made plans for much of her extended family to be there, including her older sister, Dakota, 6, who serves as a great motivator.
“We talked to her about little kids with cancer and showed her pictures of them,” her mother, Kylie Wren, said. “We explained it to her at her level and she understands that and how she is helping them. She tries to do anything and everything she can to help other kids.”
The affectionate toddler knows what it is like to deal with medical problems. She was born with spina bifida, a congenital disorder caused by the incomplete closing of the embryonic neural tube, that leaves some vertebrae overlying the spinal cord not fully formed.
Mercedes has had five surgeries already with her sixth scheduled for April.
“We were told she would never walk, sit up or crawl,” Kylie Wren said. “She has beat all the odds.”
Since she was born, Mercedes has had surgeries for hip dysplacia and has had a stent implanted. The spina bifida affects her bladder and bowels, and she has no feeling from the ankles down.
In spite of that, Merecedes walks with the assistance of a walker and attends preschool.
Those that know her describe her as loving and independent.
The family knew for a while that they wanted to donate Mercedes long curls, which fell all the way down her back. At least 11 inches is required to make a donation to Locks of Love, which provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis. Her hair measures more than 14 inches.
She has no problem as she is placed on two booster seats for the hair stylist to trim her tresses. She never budged as a pair of scissors snip off the long blonde ponytail.
When the hair stylists showed her locks, she grinned and tilted her head again in her shy manner. She sat patiently as the stylist gave her a new shorter style sans the pony tail.
“We’re very proud of her,” Kylie Wren said of her daughter choosing to donate her hair. “You usually wouldn’t think a 3-year-old would understand, but with everything she’s been through, she understands more than you think.”