In 2011, eleven year - old Preston Allen was diagnosed with cancer for the second time. He lost all of his hair due to radiation; he decided to make himself a beanie hat. It was the beginning of a nonprofit organization that now donates 600 beanie hats a month to 7 states.
“Beanies for Baldies” donates handmade beanie hats to 600 young cancer patients a month. They cover thirteen hospitals. Preston Allen and his mother, Tonya Allen, do the sewing along with a few volunteers. Preston is also currently acting in “The Barefoot Children in the City of Ward” with The Theatre Bug group. It seems a lot for a boy who is not yet a teenager, but Preston takes it in stride. “I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2011,” he explains. “I wanted something to keep my head warm when all my hair fell out. I made my first hat, and decided other kids (in the hospital) should have them too. The hats help keep your head warm.”
Preston is a Murfreesboro, Tennessee native. His father was diagnosed with Stage 4 metastatic colon cancer, losing his battle in 2010. Preston was initially diagnosed with Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis as a baby. His second bout with cancer came when he was just a boy at ten, and the treatment lasted three months.
The eleven year - old sews 250 hats a month after his mother taught him to use the machine, and he hand delivers the hats to the children's cancer clinics when possible. Some are mailed out to volunteers for distribution. Last year, his premier “community sewing day” drew over 30 volunteers. The hats are priced at only $5.00. It takes $1.00 to create the hat. For every hat purchased, four more can be made.
Mom Tonya Allen is involved in the project, and donates much time to assist the people who have cancer in their lives. She advises family and friends of those battling cancer, “Learn to accept help. Don’t let pride get in the way of not allowing someone to help you.” She also says it is important to “take care of yourself. You have to take care of yourself so you can take care of those with cancer.”
To anyone else observing him, Preston Allen is a normal little boy, giggling with friends and having fun. If you know his story, the young man is a hero for many, and a testimony to how we should all live our lives: with dignity, bravery, and to assist others who need us.
To donate or purchase a beanie: Beanies for Baldies
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