HOPE Week: Children’s Alopecia Project
The Yankees concluded HOPE Week 2012 Friday by celebrating the Children’s Alopecia Project (CAP) and the group’s founders, the Woytovich family. The Yankees’ contingent that surprised the CAP kids at a picnic at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx featured manager Joe Girardi; pitchers Freddy Garcia, Ivan Nova, Rafael Soriano and Cory Wade; outfielders Andruw Jones and DeWayne Wise; third baseman Alex Rodriguez; bullpen coach Mike Harkey; former Yankees players Darryl Strawberry and David Wells; former Rutgers football player and HOPE Week ambassador Eric LeGrand and Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson.
Events included face- and head-painting, a scavenger hunt, lunch and games. After the picnic, CAP kids and their families were invited to the Stadium for the game against the White Sox. The Woytovich family and the children of CAP watched batting practice from the field and were part of pregame on-field ceremonies. Madison and Jeff threw out the ceremonial first pitches.
In October 2003, while Betsy Woytovich was undoing the braids of her 5-year-old daughter Madison, hair began coming out in clumps. A doctor confirmed that Madison had alopecia, an auto-immune disease in which the immune system mistakenly attacks hair follicles, leading to hair loss on the scalp and elsewhere in varying degrees, a condition that affects approximately four million Americans.
Madison’s father, Jeff, searched for a support network, but learned that there was no organization that focused on children with alopecia. Betsy and Jeff wanted to make sure that Madison and children like her maintained their confidence and self-esteem heading into their teenage years. So in August 2004, they created the Children’s Alopecia Project which focuses on three goals: to build self-esteem, provide support and raise awareness.
There are now 15 CAP Kids Support Groups around the country working with families from 30 states. Additionally, there are associated groups in Hong Kong, Canada, South America and Russia. More than 1,000 families are registered members of CAP, while at least 10,000 families have received information or been counseled by members of CAP.