Alexandria (Lexie) Lerblance
Alexandria (Lexie) Lerblance, 17, of McAlester, Okla., a member of the Pittsburg County 4-H in McAlester and a junior at McAlester High School, co-founded a nonprofit organization that has donated nearly $20,000 worth of wigs and other head coverings over the past four years to approximately 150 cancer patients in her eight-county region. Almost six years ago, Alexandria's mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and began chemotherapy treatments. As she was losing her hair, she and Alexandria traveled to Tulsa to a "wig closet" that offered free wigs to patients. "She was overwhelmed with trauma and anxiety," said Alexandria, "and this particular wig closet was rather nasty, with smoke, a poor selection, and not much help with service to clients." The mother and daughter left empty-handed that day, but soon decided to open their own wig closet to provide better access, better service, and nicer wigs to women with cancer in Southeastern Oklahoma.
Alexandria and her mother persuaded a local hospital to let them use a room for their closet, partnered with a local beauty school to clean and style donated wigs, and asked the American Cancer Society to help raise money and get the word out to patients. Alexandria's main role has been to raise funds and solicit donations of wigs, scarves, hats and turbans, in large part by speaking to civic organizations using a PowerPoint presentation. Through these presentations, she also has been able to recruit 10 influential community members to help with the wig closet. "My goal has been to help cancer patients deal with one of the most traumatizing aspects of the fight against cancer," she said.