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By Caitlin Wolfe
Can you recall the feeling of cutting your hair after letting it grow for several months, a year, or maybe even 2 years? Now, imagine being a second grader, growing your hair out for roughly 8 years, and finally deciding to make the big chop.
Banner Friend, an 8 year old boy who attends Indian Creek Elementary School in Douglas did just that. On Thursday, May 12, 2023, Banner informed his mom that the day had finally come. He was ready to cut his hair and donate it to Locks of Love — all 16 inches of it to be exact. So they headed to Junior’s Barber Shop where Jairo Torres took on the meaningful task of cutting and styling Banner’s new do.
According to Banner’s mom, aside from going to school, and of course growing out his hair, he enjoys motocross and riding his dirt bike any chance he gets. Spending most of his time at the race track or outside on his dirt bike, Banner told his mom, “My helmet is probably not gonna fit me anymore.”
Banner’s mom and dad, Shelby and Brody Friend, have supported their son for the last 8 years in growing out his hair to donate it to the Locks of Love Organization. This non-profit organization provides hair pieces to children in the United States and Canada suffering from long term medical hair loss due to any diagnosis. These cases include cancer, alopecia, burn victims, and other medical conditions.
According to Shelby Friend, when Banner was just a toddler and it was time for his first real hair cut, he was not having it. Banner’s mom proceeded to tell him about his great grandmother, Jean Osborne, who passed from lymphoma in 2010. She then went on to explain to Banner that there are so many others, even children, who lose their hair due to a cancer diagnosis. She gave him the option of growing it out to one day give it back to those children who need it. Shelby says his response was, “Yes, let’s do that.”
There is a length requirement that has to be met in order to donate to Locks of Love, and Banner was clearly all business when it came to meeting this requirement. According to Locks of Love, the length of donated hair has to be 10 inches from top to bottom. Banner’s amount donated was a whopping 16 inches, which is well past the requirements. Shelby Friend states that when Banner first saw his “new do” he was shocked. According to his mom, all he could say was “Oh my gosh.”
Over the years, Banner became attached to his long locks. She compared it to growing her hair out and then trying to cut it. “It’s not always an easy thing to do,” says Shelby. Deciding to make the “big chop” can be a difficult decision to make. With that being said, even though his mom states he will miss his long hair for a while, Banner states, “I think I am gonna like it,” when referring to his current hairstyle.
“I am so proud of him. He did it because he wanted to, not because he had to. I am so proud of who he is,” says Shelby when speaking of how it made her feel as a parent to see her son make such a selfless and thoughtful commitment.
Visit https://locksoflove.org for more information on the Locks of Love Organization or how to donate your hair to those in need.
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