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Family donates hair to Wigs for Kids

By TIM TROGLEN Reporter Published: January 25, 2017 11:23 AM
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HUDSON -- Jaymes Wichert cannot knock on doors or make telephone calls to collect money for charity.

Due to his illness and the toll it is taking on his body, Wichert, 26, is confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life and cannot even write a check for a donation.

However Wichert was all smiles Jan. 18 at Hattie Larlham, where he resides, as about 16 inches of hair was cut from his head and about 15 inches cut from the head of his dad, Michael Wichert.

The father and son duo donated their locks to Wigs for Kids, which donates hair for children's wigs, free of charge.

"When getting his hair cut for the donation he was all smiles because he knows he will be helping someone else," Jaymes' mom, Peggy, said. "Their hair had to be at least 12 inches. Jaymes' hair grows faster and it took them both 2 years and 3 1/2 months to grow their hair that long."

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Jaymes has a condition called Neurodegeneration with Brain Iron Accumulation/Mitochondrial Protein Associated Neurodegeneration.

"This is a very rare, inherited neurological disorder which includes symptoms such as, progressive movement disorder, optic nerve atrophy, dystonia, which is muscle cramping and tightening, also affecting speech and swallowing," according to Peggy. "Jaymes is wheelchair bound and unable to talk or eat orally anymore, and pretty much unable to move. He understands, yet cannot communicate."

According to Peggy, who still lives in Hudson with Michael, Jaymes still laughs at his dad's jokes and shows a melancholy emotion at times.

"He is generally still a happy guy. He can blink his eyes for yes and no, and sometimes do a small head nod when asked a yes or no question," Peggy added. "Next month he will be going for an evaluation for a possible communication assistance device."

Peggy called the event both emotional and happy, for her.

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"I am so proud of them that they want to do this for others to give back and I'm so blessed to have them both," Peggy said, "I am so glad they could do this together, and I am grateful to share our story with the world."

Peggy said she was reminded of the words of poet Maya Angelou who said "There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you..."

"And that's certainly how I feel about them sharing our story with others, to encourage others to give what they can and do what they can do for others," Peggy added.

Michael and his son, who have donated their hair five times, have continued to donate as a way of helping others, Michael said.

"I am very humbled and honored to be able to do this together," Michael added. "We started doing this by the compassion of an elementary school girl donating her hair to children in need. This gave us the idea that this would be something we could do together to help others."

Donating the hair is important to Michael and Jaymes, Michael said. Michael thinks it's important to give back, just for the sake of humanity and to bring people closer together

"Our hope is that everyone is encouraged to help, lift up and support people and organizations that truly help 100 percent of people in need," he said.

For now it may be too late for Jaymes.

According to Michael the government stopped funding research in 2011 dealing with the condition slowly killing his son.

However, they hope to touch as many lives as they can and while rallying the government to continue research.

And while the research is still lacking, it appears the father and son are touching lives.

"It is incredibly heartwarming to see Jaymes and his father Mike make their fourth donation to Wigs for Kids. Their generosity is inspiring to our staff, the people we serve and their families," according to Lori Oliver vice president of the Hattie Larlham Center for Children with Disabilities. "The opportunity to witness their act of kindness reminds us to reflect on the good we can all do. It always amazes me how the people we serve and their families find their own ways to give back to their community."

Email: ttroglen@recordpub.com

hone: 330-541-9435

Twitter: @Trog_RPC

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