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Pay it Forward: Raising awareness for Alopecia among children

(John McMahon/Iowa's News Now).
(John McMahon/Iowa's News Now).
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Charlie Thompson is like many other 7-year-old girls; She goes to school, does gymnastics, and likes playing with her dog.

The only difference Charlie has from other kids her age is that she has Alopecia, an autoimmune disorder that causes her to be completely bald.

"When you look at alopecia, it's an autoimmune disease . Her body looks at her hair as a germ and says, 'I need to get rid of that," said Kelly Thompson, Charlie's dad.

According to her parents, Charlie's alopecia started when she was 5-years-old, with a bald spot on her head. That bald spot quickly spread to her entire body.

"You can't catch alopecia," said Charlie. "It doesn't spread."

"One of the first things we did when we found out our daughter had alopecia was figuring out ways to support it,." said Kelly.

Kelly says the family found the Children's Alopecia Project, a nonprofit focused on building confidence in children, raising awareness and providing support for those living with Alopecia.

"They've been a tremendous resource for us," said Kelly.

The Children's Alopecia Project holds events and camps throughout the year, some of which Charlie has attended to meet other kids like her, and even has hosted her own event locally for the community.

Kelly says the support and understanding in school has been great throughout Charlie's time in in-person schooling.

"She’s had 4 teachers and they've all been incredible," he said. "Sometimes she wears hats during the day, and sometimes she doesn’t."

Kelly says he and his wife Ashley want to raise awareness around Charlie's alopecia as a lesson in kindness.

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"There’s other kids out there that don’t have alopecia that might look different or feel different, so our overall message is just to be kind to other people."

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