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July 15, 2014

Afflicted Union youth works to help others

NEW CASTLE — Amid cheerleading, dancing, hunting with her dad and swimming with her brother and sister, 10-year-old Madalyn Gorgacz keeps busy.

Somehow, though, she also has found the time to organize an annual charity event.

Diagnosed in 2012 with alopecia, the Union Township middle school student chooses to fight back with a charity event of her creation, Madalyn’s Mile.

Now in its second year, the day will begin with a 5K run/walk and tot trot at 8:45 a.m. Saturday at the Union Township Fire Hall on South Scotland Lane.

The morning also will include food vendors, a Chinese auction, professional stylists on site cutting hair for donations, a photo booth with props and silly costumes from Clark’s, a special appearance by Elsa of “Frozen” and a new area for the day, thanks to the fire hall donation from the Union Township Volunteer Fire Department.

All proceeds will benefit the National Alopecia Areata Foundation, Wigs for Kids and Children With Hair Loss. Last year’s inaugural event raised over $14,000.

It was during a routine visit to the beautician as a third-grade student that Madalyn and her mother, Wendy, first discovered the hair loss. Though it was the first time she was aware of any change, the child would come to lose all of her hair in four weeks.

“Our beautician showed us a baldspot on her head that was no bigger than a golf ball,” Wendy Gorgacz said. “When we took her to the doctor, they ran tests and told us she had alopecia. We had never heard of it, but her doctor told us it’s very common.”

Madalyn now uses wigs, receiving a free one each year through charities like the ones this event will benefit.

Brainstorming the idea for a charity event came as a result of Madalyn’s desire to give back.

 “I love to help other people,” she said. “I wanted to hold this event to help other kids and maybe find a cure.”

She named the event in honor of her journey with alopecia. For those involved, their motto and goal for the day is to make a difference in a child’s life.

Madalyn has received help in making that difference from near and far, including Wendy, her father, Brian, and siblings Mallory and Cole, as well as local organizations such as Girl Scout troops and Lions clubs.

Madalyn and her family are hopeful that in addition to their contributions in finding a cure, the day may also provide awareness of the disorder for those unfamiliar with it.

Though they may not understand “why God has chosen this path for Madalyn,” the family continues to look on the bright side.

“We do know,” Wendy Gorgacz said, “that the will of God will never take you where the grace of God will not protect you.”

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