Rare Disease Strikes Three Girls at One School

Alopecia is a disease that's physically altering and psychologically devastating.  It is a skin disease that causes hair loss and it's affecting some teenage girls in our area. It's tough for these young girls, but what's so unique about them is they decided to do something about it.

It was a path neither Effingham County High School sophomore Emily Snooks nor senior Jamye Friess thought they'd have to walk.

"My mom filled up a trash can when she was brushing out my hair," said Emily.

It's been a path of embarrassment and ridicule.

"I lost a large portion from here to here and so I cut my hair to make it a bit more easier and I had to were headbands and people started asking me why I was wearing headbands," said Emily. "Eventually they found out and I was made fun of."

And for the first time, these girls allowed us to see what the disease has done to them.

"We're healthy kids, we're not sick at all, we just don't have any hair," said Jamye.

Rather than hide at home and let this disease get the best of them, they've decided to start their own awareness campaign by selling bracelets with the words "beauty from within" on them.

"That's why we're trying to raise money to research, they don't know what causes it, what triggers it," explained Jamye.

At the age where image is often everything, the other message they're sending out is that what is truly beautiful is the beauty from within.

"Because we know it's what's inside that counts the most," said Emily. "It doesn't matter what your appearance is."

Despite all the hardships these girls have had to endure, they've managed to see the upside to their disease. "There are some good things, I mean we don't have to shave our legs," said Jamye.

There is a third girl with this disease who didn't feel comfortable going on camera, but they're all supporting one another. And so far the girls have raised more than $800 in less than a week. Every penny will go toward research.

Reported by: Nicole Teigen, nteigen@wtoc.com