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Simple act, extraordinary heroism from 7-year-old

4:33 PM, Aug 8, 2011   |    comments
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GAINESVILLE, Ga. -- Watch Zalissa Lomax in action, and there's plenty you won't be able to tell.

You can't tell that, up until about a month ago, her hair was twice as long as it is now.

You can't tell that she got it cut as part of a selfless act for someone she's never met.

And you can't tell that the reason she tries to give someone else the best day of their life is because she has already experienced the worst day of hers.

"She'll talk about -- 'If I had just one wish, it would be just to see my mommy,'" said her grandmother, Claudia Lomax.

Weeks after Zalissa's first birthday, her family drove to Gainesville on Easter Sunday to visit her grandparents. That evening, Zalissa's mother got behind the wheel to drive them home and had a head-on collision with an 18-wheeler.

Zalissa's mother, father, and sister were killed... but somehow the infant survived.

"She literally was perfect," grandmother Claudia recalled. "Covered in glass and not even a scratch on her body. So she's definitely here for a purpose."

First, Zalissa would be adopted by her grandparents in Gainesville. Gradually, she would learn more and more about that Easter tragedy she was too young to remember.

"Sometimes I don't stay very strong," Zalissa said. "Sometimes I cry, and sometimes I get mad, and sometimes I get angry, and my head just gets nauseous when I think about it, because I just get really angry sometimes... and I know God's taking care of them."

Zalissa then found her purpose. She wanted to celebrate her mother's birthday. So a few years ago, she decided she'd find a good deed she could do every year on that day to help someone else.

This year, she learned about Sawyer.

A third cousin from Texas, Sawyer Diaz had never met Zalissa but was suffering from alopecia areata, a skin condition that was causing Sawyer to lose all her hair.

"I wanted to do something nice for her because I knew she had that bad disease," Zalissa said. "And then I thought, 'I could cut off my hair for her.'"

Zalissa got her first-ever haircut to help Sawyer. And when that still wasn't enough hair to make a wig, she told her best friend Olivia -- and Olivia did it too.

This past Tuesday, Sawyer and her family came to Georgia to pick up the wig.

"It's OK to help anybody, even if you don't know them," Zalissa said.

"The love in tragedy, it does exist," grandmother Claudia said. "It does exist in our children today."

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