BRUNSWICK -- Aunna Snider is a spirited 10-year-old who loves art and music. In her young life, she has already overcome tough odds. As an infant, Aunna was severely abused and neglected.
Her life changed when Susan and Scott Snider of Brunswick adopted Aunna and her two older siblings 9 years ago. But the effects of the abuse linger today and signs began to show last summer.
That's when Susan noticed some of Aunna's hair was missing. "She said she had been pulling it out for about a week," Susan shared.
Aunna suffers from severe anxiety. Her parents suspect it may have triggered the hair-pulling. It's a disorder known as Trichotillomania.
"When you don't have your hair, people make a judgment about you right up front. They're saying 'there's something wrong with you. There's something bad about you. You're sick, you know.' And so there's that immediate judgment even though there's this lovely vivacious beautiful young girl, there's something wrong with her because she's got some of her hair missing. She wanted to be up front and tell people that, 'I do this,' because she didn't want to have to hide it. When she did that, her friends stopped calling, they stopped hanging around so she became very isolated. So it's very shame-based. There's a lot of shame involved with it," Susan said.
But that shame went away, thanks to Wigs For Kids. Aunna received a wig made just for her. "Everyone's like, 'how did you get such long hair?" Aunna said, with a smile.
Aunna's family shared in her joy. "That value judgment that somebody's making when they first see Aunna is not there anymore. I think she feels like a normal kid again," Susan explained.
And now Aunna and her family are making sure other children can experience the same joy that a wig can bring.
They are taking part in a charity walk and run at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, to help raise money for Wigs For Kids.
"The wig, the process, the whole thing was a wonderful gift for us," Susan exclaimed.
A Jazzercise instructor, she has formed her own team to take part in the event. Susan is hoping others will join them on Saturday, July 28 at the zoo.
Day of race registration opens at 7 a.m. The 5k run starts at 8:30 a.m. A 1 mile fun walk/run for teams starts immediately after the 5k begins. Individual and family walkers are welcome too.
A cut-a-thon hosted by the LaBarberia Institute is scheduled for 9:30 a.m.
Click here to learn more about the 7th Annual Wigs For Kids Zoo Walk & Run.