Holly Willardson Christensen is an oncology nurse who has witnessed firsthand the heartache of children being diagnosed and treated for cancer. In 2014 when a friend’s daughter was diagnosed, she pondered what she could do to cheer this little girl and help her get through the chemotherapy ordeal. She spotted the Halloween costume wigs she had made for her daughters and was struck that she could make her a Rapunzel yarn wig to wear when she lost her own blonde curls.
Her friend told her that other little girls in that hospital would love to have a similar gift and expressed to Holly that the happiness of her own daughter had been impacted. On her website Holly writes:
- I began to organize what I thought would be a small project creating a few dozen wigs to send to little cancer patients and put up a request on Facebook for yarn donations. Within hours, I was flooded with responses from around the world—mothers who wanted these wigs for their little girls who have cancer, complete strangers who wanted to help by donating money to buy yarn, professionals reaching out and requesting wigs for their hospitals.
Her post went viral. The Magic Yarn Project has grown tremendously with the help of co-founder Bree Hitchcock and has attracted national media attention. They have well over one thousand volunteers, including Relief Society women and prison inmates, who make wigs that are sent to cancer centers in twenty-five countries. The nonprofit was honored at the One Hundred Gala, a cancer-research fundraising event hosted by Massachusetts General Cancer Center.
Holly earned her degree at Brigham Young University and worked in oncology at Houston’s MD Anderson Cancer Center. She now lives in Alaska with her husband and children.