The way Alison Ziebell told it on her blog, she went to Sharon's Wig Salon on Feb. 6 as a mom with a brain tumor and hair loss, looking for options as she was losing her hair. After a conflict over seeing a catalog, she left the store and wrote on her blog that a saleswoman told her on her way out, "Good luck, I hope all your hair falls out."
Over the next three days, Ziebell's post got more than 775,000 views and more than 600 comments. The post went viral through social media, with outraged readers looking for any way to help.
While Ziebell was confronted with a wave of support, Sharon Heyden, owner of Sharon's Wig Salon, faced a storm of backlash. Phone calls and emails poured in.
The top comment on Ziebell's post: "I'm sorry you've encountered these horrible people. I've sent them an email giving them a stern talking to, and I'm spreading the story as far as I can through my Facebook friends. We've got this!"
Other comments went further: "I saw this on FB, and I just wanted to encourage you to LEAVE REVIEWS. Find them on Google, Yahoo, Yelp and any other site where you can levave reviews (sic)."
Shocked at the enormity of the response, Ziebell logged back into her blog Feb. 8.
"I think Sharon has heard the response loud and clear," Ziebell said. "I encourage everyone to stop emailing and/or calling her business. If you are new to the story I can assure you, they have already received enough emails, phone calls and complaints to last them a lifetime so please use your energy and time doing something positive instead."
Although she tried to redirect the crowd from Heyden, Ziebell said she was thankful for all the support she has received as a result of her post. Several area businesses have offered to donate wigs to her.
"Although I never intended for this to go 'viral' the outpouring of positive support was unbelievable," she said.
Heyden has since publicly apologized for the incident, calling it partially a misunderstanding.
"While on their way out, I said to Allison that I was sorry for her hair loss and that she have a nice day," Heyden said in a written statement. "I feel she misinterpreted what I said."
Heyden said she plans to donate $10 for each wig sold in her shop for the next six months to Ziebell, who she said could keep the money or choose somewhere to donate it.
"I would like to say I'm sorry for how this situation turned out; however, there is a bigger issue here at stake, and that is Allison's cancer."
Heyden is also planning a fundraiser for Ziebell for March 30, which will feature a raffle.
Ziebell said on her blog that she has not accepted most of the donation offers that have come her way since the blog post, but she does hope to be able to use the momentum of donations to help others in need.
"If you are out there still looking to do good and donate anything, whether it be a wig, $5 Starbucks gift card or a certificate for a night out for dinner by all means, please donate!" she wrote Feb. 10. "I would love to pass that on to someone else. I am in the cancer center five days a week, and I can tell you first hand there are a lot of people battling over there."
Ziebell said she hopes to set up a fund or donation center through the Froedtert Clinical Cancer Center.
"My story may be public because of my blog but that does not entitle me to receive special treatment and freebies," Ziebell continued. "What it does entitle me to do is use this as a platform to create awareness and accept donations that can be given to others, others who are fighting battles just like me but that aren't blogging about it — people that are silently battling on their own without the same army behind them that I have."
■ Ziebell's blog can be found at alisonziebell.blogspot.com.
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