Syd Kimbler was a normal, healthy, athletic teenager three years ago when she began losing patches of hair.
Kimbler was a seventh-grader at Central Middle School at the time. By her eighth grade year, she had lost all of her hair.
Now a sophomore at Columbus East, Kimbler hasn’t let her condition — alopecia — bother her. She plays on the Olympians junior varsity basketball team, is a thrower for the track and field squad, plays summer softball and is in the HOSA medical club and plays percussion in concert band.
“She has a fantastic mentality about it,” said her mother, Jennifer Kimbler. “(Syd’s father Stephen is) very laid back, and I think a lot of that comes from him, but I also think it’s the support system. We just told her it’s hers to deal with, and we’ll react however she would like.”
Reaction from her peers has been positive. Syd said she hasn’t had any trouble from classmates or teammates.
Syd said she does sometimes get strange looks from those who don’t know her.
“They don’t really bother me, though,” Syd said. “Usually, I explain what it is, and they just go on with it. The first time they saw me, they asked questions, but after that, nobody really says anything. It wasn’t really that hard just because I usually don’t let things bother me too much.”
Alopecia Areata is an auto-immune disease that attacks the hair follicles. Most people with Alopecia Areata lose hair only in small, round patches, although some may lose more or all of their hair. The hair may grow back, even if all is lost, but it may fall out again. The condition affects about 6.8 million men and women in the United States, with a lifetime risk of 2.1 percent.
Alopecia Totalis happens when the hair is lost from the head, and Alopecia Universalis is when hair is gone from the entire body. Syd is between Alopecia Totalis and Alopecia Universalis.
Alopecia is painless, does not cause sickness and is not contagious.
“It’s an autoimmune issue, so it really has a mind of its own,” Jennifer said. “(The hair) can stay gone forever. It can grow back fully. There’s no rhyme or reason to how it’s going to react.”
Jennifer said Syd doesn’t have many health concerns, although her immune system is a little compromised. But Jennifer said Syd does a good job of making sure she avoids people who are sick.
Physical activity is not a problem for Syd,
“She just gets after it every day,” East JV girls basketball coach Kylie Weichman said. “She’s a hard worker. She’s extremely positive, especially in her teammates. She’s one of the most encouraging people when she’s not on the court. She has a great awareness for the game and tries to help the younger players out.”
Syd had a career game on Monday night. She scored a career-best nine points to help lead the Olympians JV team to a 48-29 win against New Albany.
Weichman called it Syd’s best game of the season.
“We’ve been talking a lot about energy and effort, and she really brought it tonight,” Weichman said. “We’ve been trying to build up her confidence for a couple of years now, and I think we really saw the kind of player that she is tonight.”
In the classroom, Syd carries around a 3.75 grade-point average. She wants to become a physical therapist.
Despite the hair loss, Syd said she never has considered wearing a wig to help hide her condition.
“It’s not me,” she said. “It’s not something I’d do. I think it would be too much to take care of. My mom always tells me just to be me.”