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BYU grad makes whimsical wigs for kids with cancer


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Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

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SALT LAKE CITY — Kids with cancer endure endless treatments and hospital stays. But one woman has found a way to give them freedom from fear.

This former oncology nurse traveled 3,000 miles to make something for some special kids: 2-year-old Indy, 5-year-old Hazel, and Nixon, who’s 6. BYU nursing alum Holly Christensen lives in Anchorage, Alaska, where the Magic Yarn Project was born.

Christensen made a Rapunzel wig to help a friend’s daughter through cancer. It was such a hit, she asked for donations on Facebook to make more.

“It just kind of snowballed from there,” she said.

Now, a tangle of volunteers from all over the country, make whimsical wigs for little girls and boys with cancer.

(Photo: KSL TV)
(Photo: KSL TV)

“Anna, Ariel, Elsa, Belle, Cinderella, Rapunzel. It just invites them back into the world of imagination and play and allows them to be children again.”

It also helps them find their creativity, and frees them from fear, she said.

The work knits people together.

“We’ve gone onto our air force base in Alaska and soldiers have made Elsa wigs during a workshop. We've involved inner-city youth in Queens, New York,” Christensen said.

Holly Christensen, center, and her team complete Magic Yarn wigs for cancer patients around the world. (Photo: KSL TV)
Holly Christensen, center, and her team complete Magic Yarn wigs for cancer patients around the world. (Photo: KSL TV)

Also, women doing time in Alaska have participated.

“My job is to take that yarn and wrap it around these peg boards,” Connor Munden, an Eagle Scout candidate from Highland, Utah said.

“Some are more difficult than others. Some fray, some are just knotted from the inside. I wanted to do something for them that could help them feel pretty.”

The yarn then gets delivered to a workshop at BYU where hundreds of strangers help kids they’ll never meet.

Connor Munden, an Eagle Scout candidate from Highland, works on unknotting yarn for the Magic Yarn Project. (Photo: KSL TV)
Connor Munden, an Eagle Scout candidate from Highland, works on unknotting yarn for the Magic Yarn Project. (Photo: KSL TV)

“It’s always nice for them to be like, normal, in a way. And this is just one way that they can be more like just any other kid,” said Nicolette Fenton, a volunteer.

For Christensen, letters of gratitude are the binding.

One letter from a father in Belgium said, “Since Marie has received her Elsa wig, she has been suffering, dot, dot, dot, dot, from fits of giggles and laughter, and she has been breaking out, dot, dot, dot, dot, in Frozen serenades all day long.”

Though she can’t cure cancer, Christensen says she can do something. The hundreds of wigs volunteers made were delivered to Primary Children’s Hospital, ready to go to the little patients who need them most.

As Indy picked her Rapunzel wig, Nixon decided to hit the high seas with his Capt. Jack Sparrow wig.

“He can go out and pretend to be somebody else and not have to worry about cancer, and just be fun like a normal kid,” said Janessa Whatcott, Nixon’s mother.

For Hazel, it’s one thing to FEEL like a princess. Quite another to actually see it on the camera in her mother’s iPhone.

“Ahhhhh!” Hazel said.

Cancer patient Hazel Crowfoot, age 5, reacts to seeing herself for the first time in a Princess Jasmine wig. (Photo: KSL TV)
Cancer patient Hazel Crowfoot, age 5, reacts to seeing herself for the first time in a Princess Jasmine wig. (Photo: KSL TV)

Veronica Crowfoot, Hazel’s mom said, “She doesn’t have many choices right now. A lot has been taken away from her.”

Hazel said, “I wish what I could do is fly away for real.”

“She has choices with them. Whether she wants to be bald and fabulous and beautiful, or if she wants to be Jasmine,” Crowfoot said.

With the help of her Rapunzel wig, Indy is becoming long on courage.

So are thousands of kids with cancer, in 39 countries, on every continent, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the U.S.

All because of a mom in Alaska with an idea.

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Heather Simonsen
Heather Simonsen is a five-time Emmy Award-winning enterprise reporter for KSL-TV. Her expertise is in health and medicine, drug addiction, science and research, family, human interest and social issues. She is the host and producer of KSL-TV’s Positively 50+ initiative.

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