Before spring break, six-year-old Daniel Williams sat in a salon chair in the cosmetology department at Red Oak High School.
No, not for just any old trim. Daniel was there to carry on a tradition his sister started one year earlier.
The Wooden Elementary kindergartner grew out his hair for two years with one purpose: to help others. Fourteen inches of hair later he had done just that with a donation to Wigs for Kids.
The cosmetology instructor at Red Oak High School, Marti Weimer, said the department has seen four people in the last two years donate their locks to Wigs for Kids. She recently cut Daniel’s hair but mentioned his older sister, Rachel, who sat in the chair a year before.
“Daniel is a precious little boy. He’s always wanted to grow his hair out and cut it. Jenny [Daniel’s mom] said he wanted to cut it to have a boy’s haircut. When I asked him, ‘Why do you want to cut it?’ he said, ‘I want to cut it and donate it,’” Weimer recalled. “So it’s just really touching that a child at six years old can make the decision to help other kids.”
When Daniel approached the chair, he was nervous at first. Since he was four years old, he’s grown accustomed to the look. To donate, Weimer separated Daniel's hair into six braids and cut from the base.
“The initial cut was shocking, but once we were all done, the smile on his face was very heartwarming. I’m proud as a teacher that he could make that decision,” Weimer relayed.
Surprisingly, it was more adverse to Daniel’s mother, Jenny, who is a health science instructor at Red Oak High School. She was thankful to have months to prepare for the transition.
“It was really hard though, I loved his hair so much,” Jenny pled.
With two of her three children deciding to impact kids struggling with hair loss, she believes the morals instilled at home proved to make an impact.
“I think the biggest ones that we really focus on are being loving, kind and truthful,” Jenny elaborated.
Daniel was shy about talking about his new hairdo, but he expressed how he’ll stick with the shorter cut. On the other hand, his sister Rachel said, “It made me sad because I liked my old hair,” but she has no regrets. Rachel donated nearly 18 inches of her hair a little over a year ago.
Through the process, Daniel also learned a valuable lesson. On occasion, he would be mistaken for a girl or was questioned by others. But he stuck it out until the tangles were too much.
“I didn’t want him to change himself based on what people thought about him,” Jenny said.
Weimer stressed the importance of donating hair to Wigs for Kids because recipients do not have to pay for the wig. The nonprofit organization provides hairpieces to kids across the nation and internationally at no cost. Those who donate need to cut off at least 12 inches of uncolored hair.
“When a child loses their hair, they don’t just suffer physically,” according to Wigs for Kids website. “They experience a great emotional pain from the extreme change in their appearance. Losing their hair can significantly harm their self-image and self-esteem. When you donate hair for wigs to Wigs for Kids, you’re helping a child receive more than just a quick fix.”
But not only did Daniel and Rachel help other children but serve as role models for their classmates, exhibiting the four talons. His teacher Lori Mentzel said Daniel is a very kind student, “He is always willing to help his friends and is so proud of them when they succeed.”
Red Oak ISD Superintendent Dr. Michael Goddard emphasized the “We Before Me” talon.
“In Red Oak ISD, we undoubtedly do all we can to teach reading, writing, math, but a deeper measure of impact comes in our emphasis on character,” Red Oak Superintendent Dr. Michael Goddard said. “When we have a student, at such a young age, that captures what ‘We Before Me’ really is, then we know it’s making an impact. We are building great young men and women to impact our community through their knowledge, their service, their character. Daniel is already capturing that. He’s being an example for us all.”
Ashley Ford | @Aford_news | 469-517-1450