Losing a loved one is never easy, but sometimes survivors are able to take comfort in the fact that the organs and tissues of the person who passed live on in another who needed them. Cheryl Steinbrink's family is taking solace in a donation she made just prior to her death on Aug. 18 that will, likewise, benefit someone in need: her thick, wavy brown hair.
"Mom had been growing her hair for over two years so she could donate a nice long ponytail to Locks of Love," her daughter, Jenn, explains. "We were able to fulfill this wish of hers – 14 inches of beautiful brown hair that will bless another life."
Jenn says she and her cousin, Rachel Bates, started the whole thing about 2 1/2 years ago when they decided to grow their hair out to donate to the charity. When Cheryl got wind of this plan, she said, "Let's do it!" Rachel's mother Karen, Cheryl's sister-in-law, also came on board.
After going in for what was thought to be routine back surgery on July 25, Cheryl experienced complications and was airlifted to Sanford Hospital in Fargo. She hovered in an induced coma for a time, suffering primarily from lung problems, but seemed to slowly be making progress when, after a 3 1/2 week struggle, she lost her fight. She was only 50 years old.
When it became apparent that Cheryl was not going to make it, her family made the decision to have her locks shorn so they could be donated. But why stop there? Jenn, her aunt and cousin, and another cousin had theirs cut as well, although none had nearly as much as Cheryl to donate. Each of their ponytails were around 10 inches long, give or take an inch or two.
"Knowing that there will soon be a child smiling, wearing all this beautiful hair, well, it helps us cope," says Jenn, who owns a ceramics/art business, Krazy Kiln, in conjunction with her mother's quilt/sewing shop, This is Sew Broadway.
Jenn adds that the family is very grateful for the blood transfusions that gave Cheryl extra time, and urges those who can to consider making a blood donation. "You never know when you or a loved one may need it."
About Locks of Love
Locks of Love is a public non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children in the United States and Canada under age 21 suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis. We meet a unique need for children by using donated hair to create the highest quality hair prosthetics. Most of the children helped by Locks of Love have lost their hair due to a medical condition called alopecia areata, which has no known cause or cure. The prostheses we provide help to restore their self-esteem and their confidence, enabling them to face the world and their peers.