When Alanna "Lonnie" Wall was 10, she approached her mother with an idea: Why didn't she go to local hospitals and treat young patients there to manicures?
Wall loved getting her nails done with her grandmother, and she wanted kids who weren't able to go to the salon to have the same pampering experience. The Dayton, Ohio, resident ran into a problem, though; she was well below the volunteering age of 15. Wall's mom asked the Miami Valley Down Syndrome Association if her daughter could volunteer there, and they agreed. "I'm still close with the first girl I ever polished, Olivia," Wall told NBC News. Olivia is now 24, and "in a way I feel like we grew up together," Wall said.
Wall was inspired to start her own nonprofit, Polished Girlz, which recruits others to take their nail polishing skills to hospitals and medical facilities. It's open to boys and girls 8 years and older — there is no age cutoff — and once approved, participants pay $55 for a kit that includes nail polish, remover, hand sanitizer, glitter, stickers, and a T-shirt. There are more than 900 volunteers who have painted thousands of nails, and the organization is continuing to grow. Wall, who spends much of her free time painting nails, will head to the University of Southern California in the fall to study business. Catherine Garcia