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‘Proud to donate’: South Richmond Hill girl sacrifices hair for fourth time to help children with cancer

Aug. 18, 2023 By Bill Parry

A student at Forest Hills High School from South Richmond Hill was just 6 years old when she first became aware of children suffering through cancer treatments. Now 15, Emily Algredo sat down on Wednesday, Aug. 16, at Butterflies By Blaq Incorporated in St. Albans to have her long beautiful hair cut off for a fourth time to donate to young cancer patients experiencing hair loss.

“When I was 6 and saw that St. Jude’s Hospital commercial for the first time, I felt bad for those kids because they didn’t have any hair and I thought how privileged I was and I knew I wanted to do this,” Algredo said. “I feel proud to donate and I think it’s a good way to encourage other people to do good stuff.”

Watching proudly as her daughter donated 15 inches of her locks, Sherry Algredo remembered back to the first time Emily sacrificed for other children.

Emily Algredo, 15, sacrifices her hair for a fourth time to help Butterflies By Blaq provide wigs for children suffering hair loss due to cancer treatment.Photo by Paul Frangipane

“I said Emily, if you cut it off you’re going to look like a boy and she went ahead anyway and had it chopped off,” she said. “And she was determined saying, ‘I have to do this,’ and she did and she did look funny.”

Dedication to community service runs in the family and led the New York State Senate to recognize Sherry Algredo as a 2021 Woman of Distinction. She emigrated to the United States in 1994 and developed her love of community service from her father who was Red Cross president for 25 years in her home country of Trinidad. When she became a new parent and had difficulties navigating the public school system, she decided to get involved in education.

In 2013 Algredo was elected to the Queens Community Education Council for District 27 where she worked on the zoning of a new school, renaming of schools and advocated for fair funding. She is the current chairwoman of Community Board 9 but on Aug. 16, the spotlight was on her daughter Emily.

“Oh, I’m super proud of her. She keeps me on my toes,” Alfredo said. “She originally said she was going to do this three times and we thought she was crazy. She didn’t intend to do it for a fourth time but during the pandemic, her hair just grew and grew and she decided to do it again.”

Council Speaker Adrienne Adams cleared her schedule and stopped by Butterflies by Blaq while Emily was in the chair.

Council Speaker Adrienne Adams shows her support as 15-year-old Emily Algredo sacrifices her hair for a fourth time to help Butterflies By Blaq provide wigs for children suffering hair loss due to cancer treatment.Photo by Paul Frangipane

“Emily has valiantly done this time and time again and I’m just so impressed with her dedication to the cause. We want to see more girls do this and even young boys as well,” Adams said. “Everybody should really really think about the donation of hair, think about the need of those with cancer who don’t have hair, that this stuff on top of our heads, those of us who are still blessed to have it, take for granted. I just think it’s a beautiful thing to do.”

Adams has supported Butterflies By Blaq through funding allocations in the city budget including $10,000 in the fiscal year 2024 budget.

“It’s warming on both sides from the perspective of children that sacrifice their hair that they’ve grown out — and it’s really hard for a young girl to cut her hair especially as long as it is — but to see them want to make that sacrifice is beautiful,” Adams said. “And then on the other side, there is a child waiting for the fruits of her sacrifice, it’s really heartwarming for me and it always moves me.”

Emily appreciated the speaker’s support.

“I love the speaker, who was with me when I cut my hair for the second time,” she said. “I really appreciate her coming out here again and spending the occasion with me.”

Erma Blackman founded Butterflies By Blaq after serving as a volunteer at the American Cancer Society as a stylist when she noticed people of color did not have enough wigs to suit their individual styles. She wanted to match the kids with styles of hair that match their own natural styles.

“It’s important to me because it just makes me feel good,” Blackman said. “It started out as just something I wanted to do to give back and it just grew bigger than that and I didn’t expect it.”

Erna Blackman, founder of Butterflies By Blaq, measures Emily Algredo’s hair before it is cut on Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023.Photo by Paul Frangipane

She added that parents say their children blossom after getting the hair.

“We want to get them back out there so they can really feel good about the skin that they’re in,” she said.

Adams said she was proud to assist Blackman and her mission to assist children with cancer.

“Any funding that comes through my office traditionally, we always maintain the integrity or want to know that we are giving to credible sources that will give back to our community, particularly those in need,” Adams said. Butterflies By Blaq exemplifies that.”

Additional reporting by Paul Frangipane.

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