• Jacksonville charity makes homemade wigs for children with cancer

    By: Kaitlyn Chana , Action News Jax


    Kids always enjoy dressing up like their favorite princesses or superheroes.

    For children with cancer they need a special-type of wig to put on their head. The local Jacksonville charity “Halo Keepers” is making these wishes turn into a reality.

    Dozens of volunteers with Halo Keepers are intertwining the spirit of love into handmade wigs for kids going through the unimaginable. Founders Heather Curtis and Courtney Hollinger told us children who spend their days in sterile rooms with IV lines in their arm deserve to be showered with kindness.

    “These kids have so much negative stuff in their lives. They get treatments that are painful and they have tests that are quite long. They get so excited to get a wig. Sometimes they’re singing and they put it on and they’re dancing around,” Curtis said.

    A special yarn is used to make these wigs so they don't scratch or injure the heads of cancer patients. Each wig costs about $20 and it takes roughly six hours to make, depending on the type of wig being made.

    “We do this just to bring a simple smile. Our goal is to get down to the soul of a child so they can show their true self and their true emotion. There’s nothing like the honesty of a child. It’s completely about one little moment; making it a little easier for them and just a little bit happier,” Hollinger said.

    The Halo Keepers made a personal delivery to surprise Addison Tomberlin with a one-of-a-kind wig at her home. The 4-year-old is battling an aggressive cancer in her blood cells.

     Addison received a Poppy wig from the Halo Keepers organization.

    “Poppy in the movie 'Trolls' is Addy. She is just always happy,” Hollinger said.

    Now, Addison can finally dress up like her favorite character, Poppy. Immediately after putting it on she asked to go see herself in the mirror. Addison couldn’t stop looking at herself and singing her favorite tunes.

    Her mom, Stephanie Tomberlin, is thankful and grateful for all the volunteers who dedicate their time into making Addison smile.

    “To see her (Addison) put these wigs on… and for a moment, you don’t see the cancer you just see Addison,” Tomberlin said.

    On May 29, Addison was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia and weeks later through genetic testing it revealed that her leukemia cells were Philadelphia positive. That means her leukemia is resistant to standard chemotherapy treatments and the likelihood of cancer recurrence is high during and after treatment.

    Most days are spent in the hospital; Addison told us her mother takes good care of her when she’s sick.

    “I cry and mommy comes sees me and (I) throw up,” Addison said.

    Addison has undergone frequent blood transfusions and multiple port placements due to complications from infections due to her nonexistent immune system. A feeding tube was placed after her medications began eroding the inside of her mouth and she began losing weight.

    She’s lost her strength to walk independently and gets tired easily.  Her mom said this disease is robbing Addison of her childhood.

    “She’d have infections and fevers so high it felt like we were losing her in a personality aspect. She would just not herself and it was like we lost her. We lost her. She was there, but she wasn’t Addison,” said Tomberlin.

    Addison will endure an intense chemotherapy regimen until August. After that, she’ll be moved into a maintenance stage of her treatment.

    While the dark cloud of cancer may loom the spirit of those who care always shines through.

    There is more information about how you financially support or volunteer with Halo Keepers on their Facebook page.

    If you’d like to stay updated on Addison’s cancer journey or donate to the family, visit this link. 

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