When Rosie Quinn was two-and-a-half years old she was diagnosed with alopecia, an autoimmune disease that causes baldness. As she grew up, strangers would stare at her, or walk up to her parents and ask what was wrong with her. Attention no little child would want.
This gave her parents an idea. What if they surprised her with a head scarf using one of her favorite paintings? When Rosie wore her special scarf, strangers began to focus on her creative artwork and not on her hair loss. Rosie’s reaction: “What about the other bald kids? We should make these for all the bald kids who look like me. Can we do that?” Just like that, a little gift to boost self-confidence fueled a five-year-old’s mission to help others.
Today, Coming Up Rosies donates art supplies to children’s hospitals throughout the US so children – especially those suffering from hair loss due to medical issues – can create their own head scarves and superhero capes. Each smile kit not only provides a child with a creative outlet, but also the opportunity to wear their masterpiece… all with the goal of helping children love their differences and feel confident with whatever challenges they may be facing.
When we met Rosie, we couldn’t stop smiling. Her drive to help other children embrace their differences and be proud of who they are inspired us to honor Rosie as our first Purple Paladin. Our Purple Paladin program empowers everyday heroes, like Rosie, by providing them with critical resources to help them to take their organizations from start-up to sustainable. With business support, funding and a commitment to share their story, we are honored to help these social entrepreneurs reach new heights.
And we aren’t the only ones. When we surprised Rosie as our first Purple Paladin, a friend of ours asked to come along. Rickie Fowler joined us for an unforgettable day with Rosie at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago where we made the announcement. Rosie’s reaction to being named our first Purple Paladin made everyone smile – and we are so proud to support Coming Up Rosies as she works toward her goal of making a million children smile.