Big Hearts in the Big Country: Abilene Girl With Alopecia Gets Wig Donated by Community

ABILENE, Texas (KTAB) - A trip to the hair salon is not something 10-year-old Abigail Pena-Perez imagined doing.

"It's fun to have like my hair styled now," says Pena-Perez.

It's a long awaited visit but not necessarily for the haircut itself.

Kelsey Wenske, the owner of the Special Touch Salon in Abilene says, "It is pretty cool just to see everything all come together."

Pena-Perez adds, "I remember coming home and saying I wish I could do this to my hair. I wish I could do this."

Several months ago, we first told you about the strangers who came together to donate their hair to Abigail; a girl they'd never even met.

"I had a lot of fun with my hair before I started losing it," says Pena-Perez.

Abigail has an auto-immune disease known as Alopecia which leads to hair loss. When we introduced you to Abigail, she had no hair like her father Rafael who also has Alopecia.

"When my hair started falling out, I wore a baseball cap and I bet you, I didn't take that off for ten years and I didn't want Abby to do the same thing," says Rafael Pena-Perez, Abigail's father.

He worried that a wig could lead Abigail to do the same thing.

Pena-Perez says, "I was a little nervous at first because I didn't want her to use it as a crutch."

Now that Abigail has long locks, she is still proving that  the wig does not define her.

Pena-Perez adds, "She wanted to wear it to her volleyball game. After the first game, it was too hot. She's like this is too hot, I'm taking it off. She took it off and you could see everybody in the stands, wow. I thought that was great because when I was her age, I wouldn't have done the same thing. I would have stuck it out because I was that self-conscious. But she's handled this a lot better than I ever did."

"It's not who I am. I wear it cause I've always wanted hair. When I started losing my hair, I never thought I'd have a wig," says Pena-Perez.

Her dream has turned into reality.

"It's fun and getting to brush my hair again, it feels great just getting to do something I haven't gotten to do in a long time," adds Pena-Perez.

Thanks to Special Touch Salon owner, Kelsey Wenske, who offered free hair cuts to people willing to donate, "Just to be able to physically touch the hair on her head and feel all the hair that everyone so lovely donated to her. It's really cool. A very special moment."

"It's really fun to wear the wig. My friends, they braid each other's hair in gym and music and I braid people's hair. Nobody can braid mine because I don't have any. Finally, they braid my hair in music and gym," says Pena-Perez.

When Abigail was faced with the question of to wear or not wear her wig in her school yearbook picture, she says it was an easy decision, "Well, I'm going to put the one without the wig because that's who I truly am."

Abigail's mother, Olenda Pena-Perez is overwhelmed with the support from the community and the strength of her daughter. "I mean, we appreciate the hair and it's beautiful and it's great. She loves it. She's so excited when she gets to wear it. We can curl it, crimp it, and put bow's and everything else in it. But the fact that for her yearbook that she'll have for the rest of her life, she'll have who she really is. I was proud of her for that."

Abigail's parents say her wig will likely last two to three years because she doesn't wear it every day. If she did, they say it would likely only last a year. After the hair starts to fall out, they plan on using the remaining hair to attach to a baseball cap and make it into a ponytail that she can wear.

When Abigail returned to Wenske's salon, she had more donated hair to give to Abigail. Abigail's family says they'll use it to put towards a new wig when she needs it. 

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