Since she turned 7, Jordyn Fuchs has donated her curly brown hair every three years on her birthday.
Now a Cherokee High School sophomore who just celebrated her 16th birthday on Jan. 20, Jordyn chopped off 12 inches of her tresses for her fourth donation, partly to make a difference and partly to honor her beloved maternal grandmother, MiMi, who passed away in 2011 after battling metastatic colon cancer for 15 months.
“I was 5 years old and watching TV with my MiMi, who had cancer at the time, which made her completely lose her hair,” Jordyn recalled. “A commercial for St. Jude (Children’s Research Hospital) came on, and I asked MiMi why all those kiddies looked like her, why they had no hair. She said it was because they were sick like her, so I decided that I would just give them my hair.”
It was another two years before Jordyn’s hair grew enough to donate for the first time, setting off a tradition that her mother, Lisa Marie Fuchs, said exemplifies the kind of unusual, authentic thoughtfulness her daughter has always exemplified.
“Jordyn is a very empathetic, caring, thoughtful person,” her mother confirmed. “She’s always been my old soul. There aren’t many people, children or adults, who are selfless enough to look for how they can make a difference at 7, 10, 13 and 16 years old.”
Lisa described her teenage daughter as a self-taught artist, budding musician and honors student in her second year of taking college-level engineering courses. She said Jordyn has always marched to the beat of her own drum — and heart — and is grateful that Marlton’s schools have allowed her daughter to discover her own path.
“She has this unique vision, and her teachers have been phenomenal,” Lisa said. “The Evesham Township and Cherokee teachers helped her and recognized her abilities and her challenges. They let her push the boundaries as far as they could.”
Jordyn has donated to Locks of Love once and Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths twice. This year, after doing some research once she found out Pantene wasn’t accepting donations, she settled on Wigs for Kids.
“My mom recommended that I look into Wigs For Kids,” she recalled. “I had just enough hair to meet the criteria, and I liked that they don’t sell their hair, which some other organizations do.”
For as long as MiMi was alive, she was a constant in Jordyn’s life. Lisa said her mother moved from Philadelphia — the very home where she had raised her own children and that had been in the family for 83 years — to be closer to the Fuchs’ Marlton home. It fostered a closeness between grandmother and granddaughter that Lisa said keeps MiMi’s memory alive.
“I was the first person in my family to graduate from college, and when I was pregnant with Jordyn, I was going to quit my job,” Lisa said. “My mom said I worked too long and too hard to do that, so she moved from South Philly to Mt. Laurel to help me and my husband take care of her.”
Lisa added: “She watched Jordyn every day until she passed. My mother lived for that child.”
Beyond honoring her grandmother, it’s important to Jordyn to make a positive impact on the world however she can. Donating her hair is a simple way she’s found to make a difference to children who have lost theirs for medical reasons such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, alopecia, trichotillomania and burns.
“It’s an issue that, in all honesty, doesn’t get enough attention, and it’s an issue that’s really personal to me because of my MiMi,” Jordyn noted. “It’s an issue I feel a really strong connection to.”
Being in a position to help children facing medical challenges feel a little more comfortable with their appearance, thanks to the custom-made wigs she’s able to supply the hair for, is something that affects Jordyn deeply.
“It makes me feel really good, because not only am I giving my hair but my family members, my younger cousins, have taken their inspiration from me and donated their hair, too,” she said. “It just makes me feel warm inside.”
“She’s an inspiration,” Lisa affirmed. “She’s inspired family members and friends to donate their own hair, too.”
Jordyn encourages others to make the cut and provide a donation that will help organizations like Wigs For Kids not only offer natural wigs to children but also give them back some of their self-esteem.
“If you really want to do it and you want to make that difference, then do it,” she advised. “There’s always someone out there who needs it, and our hair grows back — and, unfortunately, theirs won’t, which is why I give.”
In addition to her hair donations, Jordyn is also holding a fundraiser to benefit St. Jude’s, which had raised $1,070 as of deadline. She is still accepting donations to get to the $1,600 mark, with the goal of giving $100 for every birthday she’s celebrated.
Visit giftfunds.stjude.org/TeamJordyn to find out more.