Today, almost nine years to the day since Jeff spoke to Maddie’s kindergarten class about her alopecia and differences, he spoke to her entire high school student body and faculty about the very same thing. It was somewhat nostalgic. His reason for giving the talk was the same as before: Maddie still has never been bullied, but she was feeling like people in high school who she had not met before wondered why she was bald and even assumed she had cancer. Just like in kindergarten, she asked her dad to intervene and talk to her school, to make sure they all understood that she has alopecia, not cancer.
This time, Jeff also talked about CAP and the families that we are blessed to know and help through CAP. As pictures of our CAP families and Alopeciapalooza flashed across the screen, Jeff talked about our journey with alopecia and how it led to CAP and Alopeciapalooza. He explained to the engaged student body and school faculty about how sometimes something we may see as a flaw or a difference in ourselves can lead us to discover new worlds, to find out something about ourselves that we otherwise might not have found–a talent, a skill, even a friendship or group of friends.
Especially at Thanksgiving, I am reminded of the story of Squanto and how his journey led him to help so many. Did you know that Squanto was kidnapped from his village and spent three years in New England working as a servant? He was desperate to get back home to his tribe and finally after 10-12 years, Squanto was finally able to begin his journey home. But when Squanto went to where his village used to be, his family was nowhere to be found. He later learned that a great sickness had struck his people, and everyone had died. He was the last of the Patuxet tribe. Squanto lived with the Wampanoag tribe until he heard that the white men were building a city nearby. The year was 1620 when the Pilgrims arrived. Squanto taught the Pilgrims how to farm. He taught them how to plant Indian corn and other vegetables. He also taught the women how to cook the corn. Squanto helped Pilgrims to make friends with other Indian tribes. He was such a great help, William Bradford declared him a special instrument sent from God to help them survive. If Squanto had not been there to help the Pilgrims, it could be possible that none of them would have survived. If Squanto had not been kidnapped years earlier, history would have been rewritten.
Sometimes life throws us curve balls. Difficult situations often seem pointless, and we can’t help but wonder why did this happen to me. When Maddie was diagnosed with alopecia, Jeff and I certainly wondered why it had to be her. But sometimes, something wonderful can come from something scary and life-changing. During the Q & A after Jeff’s talk, a fellow student asked Maddie if she could grow her hair back tomorrow, would she want to. She answered honestly, “I don’t know” and went on to explain that if it hadn’t been for her alopecia, she never would have met so many friends, been to so many places for Alopeciapalooza, met the Yankees. And if it wasn’t for Maddie losing her hair in Kindergarten, Jeff would never have founded CAP and started us on this wonderful journey of being able to use our experience to help others. CAP is a blessing to our family. We are thankful for each and every one of you who have been put in our path. We are so grateful to be part of such a wonderful family that we call CAP.
Happy Thanksgiving to our extended CAP Family!
Betsy and Jeff Woytovich