We can learn a lot from Blake Glass. The 11-year old autograph collector and founder of Autographs 4 Alopecia has turned his passion for the hobby into a platform for raising awareness about alopecia areata, the disease he was diagnosed with a decade ago. He leads fundraising efforts by donating five cents to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation for each autograph he and his brother Gavin collect throughout the year. Now closing in on 2,000 graphs since the project began in 2011, Blake’s efforts have produced considerable change.
As a reader of his blog I’m impressed with and inspired by how Blake chronicles his adventures with candor and humor while embracing his condition. I’ve learned a lot from Blake Glass.
In this interview with Autograph University, Glass discusses the Autograph 4 Alopecia project and some of his most memorable graphing experiences.
Autograph University: What is your favorite autograph-related memory?
Blake Glass: In September 2011 I was able to be the honorary bat boy for the Cleveland Indians. We were talking to Jim Thome for a few minutes and then he left and went into the clubhouse. He came out and gave me a bat signed “To Blake” and it wasn’t even a broken one. Meeting all the Indians was really awesome!
AU: As an experienced in person autograph collector, what tips would you give to fellow collectors?
BG: Make sure you have a Sharpie, always be nice and use your manners.
AU: How did you come up with the Autographs 4 Alopecia project?
BG: I saw other kids doing things to raise awareness and money for their disease and wanted to do something for mine. Since Gavin and I love to get autographs at baseball games it was a fun thing to start. Since then we’ve expanded beyond baseball. I also couldn’t do it without Gavin’s help. He is always looking for a card to get signed and telling people about alopecia.
AU: Since starting your project in 2011 you’ve amassed more than 1,800 autographs. What are the most meaningful items in your collection and who do you most want to add to it?
BG: I already mentioned my Jim Thome bat, but a few other ones were my Matt Hagen card that was our 500th autographed card and a Matt Tupman card that was #1000. I also have a couple of pictures of Charlie Villanueva from the Pistons. I met him when I was 4 and had courtside seats in his rookie year. He is one of several professionals with alopecia. It is really cool to get to know some minor league players personally and then their cards mean a lot to me too. As far as who I would like to add: I was really into the Olympics and like Missy Franklin and Gabby Douglas. Joanna Roswell is a a British cyclist that won gold and she has alopecia as well so that wold be cool. Jack Crawford is a rookie with the Raiders and has alopecia as well. I’m hoping to meet him and get and autograph too. We’re having a National Alopecia Areata Foundation day at the Nationals game on September 2nd so I’m hoping to get Strasburg, Harper and Zimmerman too. Oh yeah, I’m a huge Tim Tebow fan too! You can always dream big!
AU: You recently participated in the Alopecia Areata Foundation Conference in Washington, D.C. Tell me about the impact the event had on you.
BG: I got to meet a lot of people that have alopecia like me and it was fun to get to know them. We got to meet with the Pennsylvania representatives down there and I got to meet Mike Fitzpatrick and get a picture and autograph from him.
AU: How do you see the Autographs 4 Alopecia project evolving in the future?
BG: I’m not sure yet but we have some big things planned. I’ve gotten a lot of support from family, friends and people I’ve met in baseball and other sports.
AU: How can Autograph University readers support Autographs 4 Alopecia?
BG: The best way to stay informed is to follow our blog and like us on Facebook. If you see me at a game sometime, say hi and I’d love to talk to you.
A huge thanks to Blake for participating in this interview. Follow his adventures at Autographs 4 Alopecia.