Wigs 4 Kids Fights for Children Amid Lawsuit Started by Ohio Nonprofit

It’s heartbreaking to think that a nonprofit would sue another charitable organization, especially one providing wigs and counseling to children suffering through illness in Michigan.  Yet that is exactly the situation affecting Wigs 4 Kids of Michigan, Inc. 

Here’s the backstory: In 2003, Maggie Varney the Founder & CEO of Wigs 4 Kids became aware of this need as there was no program in Michigan to help these children. Being a licensed cosmetologist, Maggie was certified to work with adult patients through the American Cancer Society for more than 20 years assisting them with the appearance-related side effects of their illness. It was through one of her classes for adults that she became aware from a 16-year old teen that there was no place a child could go to receive a wig. Maggie owned a salon and felt that she might be able to help children suffering too.

Maggie donated half the space and all of her personal time to start the program and it grew.   Two years into this growth, Wigs For Kids in Ohio contacted Maggie threatening legal action.  After Maggie agreed to change the charity’s name to Wigs 4 Kids of Michigan, Inc. and service only Michigan children, the threats of legal action stopped.  The two organizations then coexisted for 14 years.  Maggie honored her commitments to the Ohio organization in every respect.  In fact, it is standard practice at Wigs 4 Kids of Michigan to refer out-of-state inquires to the Ohio organization.   

In 2010, Wigs 4 Kids of Michigan expanded into a Wellness Center with counseling services provided on-site.  The extra services caught the attention of the media and several very positive stories were published about the charity’s growth and services.  Unfortunately, this sparked threats from the Ohio organization to start all over again --- this time coming to a head in the form of a federal court lawsuit that demands Wigs 4 Kids of Michigan “cease and desist” in its current form.  In response to the filing, Wigs 4 Kids of Michigan quickly offered to take any steps necessary to make sure people understood the distinction between the two charities but attorneys for the Ohio organization said “nothing” along these lines would be sufficient.   

Maggie says of the Ohio organization:
 “We support their efforts since there are over 12,000 newly diagnosed cases of kids with cancer in the US every year and there should be more people doing this work. We have coexisted for 14 years and in that time, Wigs 4 Kids has helped over 4,000 children right here in Michigan. We work with all 8 hospitals that provide pediatric oncology and serve kids with other hair loss disorders. I am proud to say the charity has become a recognized name in Michigan homes over the last 14 years.  In fact, there are no other organizations that provide custom-made wigs & support services at no charge in the world. 

It appears to me that Wigs For Kids in Ohio is hoping to capitalize on the goodwill we have built up in Michigan with our local charity.  This is probably because we provide services to more children in Michigan in one year than the Ohio organization provides in the other 49 states.   We hope to be able to continue this rewarding work in Michigan.  But it saddens me deeply to think that we may have to use funds intended for the children to pay legal fees – which means that it is the kids & families in Michigan who will suffer.”

Wigs 4 Kids of Michigan is currently relying on legal services from Kirk, Huth, Lange & Badalamenti Law Firm.  Any legal questions should be directed to Raechel Badalamenti at: (586) 412-4900 or rbadalamenti@khlblaw.com. 

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