Chicagoland

Young girl starts charity for kids with hair loss

By Joyce Duriga | Editor
November 9, 2017

Young girl starts charity for kids with hair loss

Rosie Quinn, now 6, was diagnosed with alopecia, an autoimmune condition that attacks hair follicles and results in baldness, when she was 3. With the help of her parents, she began designing her own head scarves. Soon she wanted to share them with other children who have lost their hair, and the family started "Coming Up Rosies" a charity run by Rosie and her mother, Paula Quinn. Rosie is a student at St. Clement School in Lincoln Park.
Rosie Quinn, 6, poses with a kit that allows children with cancer to design their own head scarves. Rosie was diagnosed with alopecia, an autoimmune condition that attacks hair follicles and results in baldness, when she was 3. With the help of her parents, she began designing her own head scarves. Soon she wanted to share them with other children who have lost their hair, and the family started "Coming Up Rosies" a charity run by Rosie and her mother, Paula Quinn. Rosie is a student at St. Clement School in Lincoln Park. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Rosie Quinn, 6, puts together a kit for a child with cancer to design his or her own head scarf. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
One of Rosie's head scarf designs. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
One of Rosie's head scarf designs. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Rosie Quinn, 6, helps her mother, Paula Quinn, put together a kit for a child with hair loss to design his or her own head scarf. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Paula Quinn helps her daughter Rosie, 6, assemble a head-scarf kit. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Paula and Rosie Quinn assemble kits that will allow children with hair loss to design their own head scarves. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Rosie Quinn, 6, displays one of her scarf designs and a kit that will be sent to a child with hair loss so he or she can design a scarf. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)

One of the first things you notice about Rosie Quinn is that she doesn’t have hair. That observation is soon eclipsed by the 6-year-old’s energetic and charming personality. 

Rosie, a first-grader at St. Clement School on the North Side, lost her hair at 2½ to alopecia, a condition that changes  the immune system attacks hair follicles. It can cause patches of baldness on a person’s head or complete baldness, which is the case with Rosie. There is no cure. 

“We embraced it,” said Rosie’s mother, Paula Quinn. The family has even created a charity to help “other bald kids,” as Rosie explained. 

After losing her hair, Rosie didn’t want to wear anything to cover up her head. But every time the family would go out, people, mostly children, would point and stare and ask Rosie why she didn’t have any hair or if she was a boy or a girl. 

“At first Rosie would say ‘My hair’s on vacation. It fell out.’ She was really bubbly about it,” Quinn said. But after time, “it was getting annoying.”

That’s when she came up with the idea of a head scarf. Since Rosie loves to paint, her mother, who worked for Google at the time, looked in to having one of her original creations printed on material for a scarf. 

“My husband, Larry, and I noticed that whenever she did a painting she was just beaming with pride,” Quinn said. “We just wanted to transfer that pride into her appearance, because it is a little challenging when you have a glaring difference. We all have differences but some are more obvious than others.” 

Quinn connected with Shockwaves Promotional Apparel in Arlington Heights, who, using a custom dyeing process, transferred Rosie’s design to material. Quinn took Rosie to pick up the first scarf.

“I gave it to her and she goes right to the mirror, and she’s looking at it and thinks it’s great and five seconds later she says, ‘I want to give this to the bald kids,’” Quinn recalled.

“I wore it and I loved it. I loved it so much I wanted to give it to the children who have cancer and alopecia. I figured if it’s helping other children I’ll do it,” Rosie said. 

That’s when the begging began. Rosie begged her mother for months to quit her job and start a charity with her that would get head scarves to kids in hospitals.

“She quit her job and we started this company,” Rosie said. “And every day it gets bigger and bigger.”

That charity is Coming Up Rosies, and it sells preprinted head and neck scarves made from Rosie’s paintings, the proceeds of which cover the costs of producing scarf-making kits for children in hospitals. Each kit includes a handwritten note from Rosie, paints, brushes and a blank canvas. 

After a child paints the canvas, parents can email Quinn a photo of the image, which she has printed on a head scarf and returned to the child. 

From the first month they were operating, Coming Up Rosies has continued to grow. Quinn never thought it would happen.

“Life just kind of throws you curve balls and we’re making lemonade,” Quinn said. “Out of lemons,” Rosie filled in.

“Once I saw it, it inspired me because I figured if there’s just, like, kids sitting around the hospital then what’s the point if they just sit around there hopeless and they don’t get to do anything fun like play around in their beds or anything,” Rosie told the Chicago Catholic. “So I decided to give it to the bald kids because, of course, they all love painting, probably.”

For more information or to order scarves, visit www.cominguprosies.com.

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