Groups giving wigs to children with cancer battle over naming rights

Wigs 4 Kids helps children with cancer in Michigan

ST. CLAIR SHORES, Mich. – Two organizations committed to helping children with cancer are squaring off in federal court.

The organizations operate under similar names: Wigs 4 Kids is the name of the Michigan organization, and the other group is a national organization based in Cleveland. The Ohio group went to court to force a name change.

Maggie Varney is the dynamo behind a unique program supplying free wigs for children.

"The kids get to come here and get services," Varney said. "They come back here when it's prom. They get their hair done for prom. They come back when they need a new wig. Every year their head size changes. They get a wig every year."

Wigs 4 Kids has a logo, but the organization is only trademarked in Michigan. Wigs For Kids is a national organization and has a national trademark.

Last year, a cease and desist letter came to Varney, telling her she had to change her organization's name. She refused.

She and the other organization have coexisted for 14 years, and she even has records of the referrals she gave to the Ohio group.

"I don't know why they would do this," Varney said. "There is just no reason. If their purpose is to serve children, they should be glad that this many more they don't have to take out of their budget and income because they're supposed to service the U.S. We service Michigan and serve more kids in Michigan than they did in the whole U.S."

Confusion over a donation and the publicity surrounding a professional wrestling spurred the lawsuit. Varney doesn't want to think it came because of her success.

"Success? Success would be when we close the doors and cancer is cured," Varney said.

Local 4 reached out to the legal counsel for the Ohio organization and in Michigan, Wigs 4 Kids. No one was available to discuss their side of the story.

The Wigs 4 Kids group will be asking federal Judge Nancy Edmunds to dismiss the case.

Stay with ClickOnDetroit.com for updates.

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