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  Recently an East Tennessee fifth grader received the most precious gift in the form of letter from University of Tennessee quarterback Joshua Dobbs. The significance of the letter to little Riley Ripley a huge fan of her state’s college team? Dobbs penned the awe inspiring letter encouraging the 11-year old girl to do great things, after learning they both suffered from the same autoimmune disorder, Alopecia.

According to little Riley who gushed over her favorite UT player, Dobbs she realized they had something in common after observing a photo. She shared, “He had some hair, but what really made me know is he had no eyebrows. “It was really cool to think a pro-athlete, like really famous, had the same thing I did, because at first I thought I was the only person.”

The young girl began losing her hair at the age of four, and by the age of nine it was completely gone. She shared,

“I got to third grade, I would play with my hair, I would twirl it and I would pull my hand down and chunks would just come huge pieces I was scared at first, because I didn’t know what was happening.” Thus she and her family learned that she was afflicted with the autoimmune disease that attacked her hair follicles. Ripley then detailed how going back to schools was a scary ordeal until she saw Dobbs was just like her.

“I was nervous because I was afraid everyone was going to make fun of me, because I was the only girl that everyone knew of that had no hair.” This is when little Ripley got up the courage to pen a note to Dobbs asking if he ever worried about what people had to say about him missing hair. A couple of weeks later he responded, “He said I’m just like you, I have alopecia and I don’t worry about anybody because those people I just can’t pay attention to them,” said Ripley. “It shows me that no matter what you have you can be what you want to be and do what you want to do,” the young lady expressed.

Very inspiring message. Would you agree?

 Read Joshua Dobbs letter to Riley Ripley


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