Children were smiling Saturday as they watched stuffed animals be filled with cotton during Bearables of Copperas Cove’s birthday party and fundraiser.

The fundraiser was organized to raise money for people who suffer from a skin disease known as alopecia. The event was created by Pre-Teen Miss Five Hills Briana Liles, who herself has alopecia.

She wanted to help raise money and bring awareness to others about what alopecia is and how to deal with it on a daily basis. Other members of the Five Hills Royalty assisted Briana during the event. The event would not have been possible without the generosity of Bearables owner B.J. Callaway.

According to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation, a common autoimmune skin disease causes a loss of hair mostly on the face, scalp and sometimes other parts of the body. The disease can affect people in different ways, and generally first appears in childhood. About 6.8 million suffer from alopecia in the United States.

Briana Liles said, “I can help others that have it worse than me. Most of the kids and adults that have alopecia have no hair, but I am fortunate to still have my hair, and I am able to put cream and stuff to put in my hair. I have been teased by other children for the way I look.” She adds, “you look beautiful the way you are, do not listen to others.”

B.J. Callaway is the owner of Bearables and said, “we generally do three fundraisers per year, and when it comes to fundraisers I like to strictly focus on the children, and the needs of children. I love to interact with the kids and if I can put a smile on a child’s face, that means a lot to me.”

Christy Liles is Briana’s mother, and said, “It means a lot to me to be the mother of Briana, because until my daughter was diagnosed with alopecia in kindergarten, I had never heard of it.

“Alopecia is an autoimmune disease that causes hair loss, and there is no cure for it,” she added. “Your own body basically attacks your hair follicles, and your body looks at your hair as a disease and causes it to fall out.”

“I have watched my daughter be bullied and come home crying because the top of her head was bald. She has gone from crying and being super sad because of the condition to being very strong and being OK with the fact that she may become completely bald-headed.

“She wants everyone around her to know that whether you have one strand of hair or a million strands of hair, your beauty doesn’t come from your hair, but rather comes from within.”

Jennifer Dorroh is the manager of Bearables. She said she enjoys working with the kids and supporting the community.

Macy Heinze, a 6-year-old, had a lot of fun coming to the event.

“I liked seeing my dog get stuffed,” Heinze said. “I am not sure what name I will give my dog.”

“I liked helping stuff my dog, because I like helping dogs at the animal shelter, “ Joey Sharbeno said. “I do not have a name for it yet.”

The Barajas family attended the event because they wanted to support a good cause.

Amanda and her sister, Vanessa, brought their children Emmanuel, Victoria and Yesenia. They really like the animals they chose.

The Five Hills royalty, with the help of Bearables, raised $606.25 for people who suffer from alopecia.

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