Local boy donates 40 inches of his hair to help kids

Over the past two years, Grayson Sample developed a simple hair care routine.

Every day, he would put a lot of shampoo on his long blond locks and then dry his hair and brush it.

Every couple of months, he would visit Myka Wetzel at The Buzz Hair Design Studio in downtown Seymour to style it.

Earlier this month, though, he decided to change up his routine.

The 9-year-old Seymour boy chose to have his hair cut off to benefit other kids. It had grown more than halfway down his back.

“I didn’t want to see it go,” his mother, Brittany Johnson, said with a smile. “I was OK with taking care of the long hair, but he was ready. A couple weeks ago, he was like, ‘I think I’m about ready to donate my hair,’ and I said, ‘OK, bud. That’s fine. You just tell me when you’re ready.’ He woke up one day, they were getting ready to leave for school, and he was like, ‘OK, you can call that lady now.’”

After he finished his day at Emerson Elementary School in Seymour on Oct. 10, Sample had his mom take him to The Buzz to get his hair chopped off.

Johnson took pictures of him before they went into the shop and a few more when he was in Wetzel’s chair, and then she continued capturing the moment as Wetzel put her son’s hair into four ponytails and cut them off.

Sample was able to watch Wetzel the whole time.

“There were mirrors everywhere,” he said, smiling. “I was kind of like, ‘Yay!’”

When Wetzel was done, she had cut off more than 40 inches of Sample’s hair. Johnson said to donate to Wigs for Kids, a lock has to be at least 10 inches long.

“His were well over 10 inches,” she said. “It could help more than one person. It will go to multiple wigs, not just one specific. They have beautiful wigs with real hair now.”

Founded by Certified Cosmetic Therapist Jeffrey Paul, Wigs for Kids is a nonprofit hair donation organization that has been serving children suffering from hair loss since 1981, according to wigsforkids.org.

Wigs for Kids is a cooperative effort among certified service providers throughout North America who share a common goal.

“Children shouldn’t have to worry about how they look, especially when they’re in the middle of a health crisis,” Paul said. “We want to give these kids the opportunity to feel good about themselves again.”

The cost of the hair replacement systems Wigs for Kids provides is approximately $1,800, the website states.

“These are custom-made hair replacements,” Paul said. “Each prosthesis is hand-tied and is made completely from human hair. We make sure they look just like a child’s own hair. They won’t come off on the baseball field or in the playground. Kids can count on them. And because kids look just the way they did before, they feel better about themselves. They look in the mirror and their eyes light up. To see that light in their eyes, that’s priceless.”

Sample said when he was holding his locks of hair, he felt happy knowing he was helping kids. It was a proud moment for Mom.

“He got made fun of, he got called a girl everywhere he went, so just for him to stick to his guns and not cut it just because people have their boy-girl opinions, that was difficult,” she said. “But I’m proud of him. He didn’t cut it. He didn’t listen to the bullying at school. He just let it go. He’s like, ‘I’m going to help people.’”

Sample was in first grade when he decided to stop having his hair cut and let it grow out.

“It was a me thing. He would do this hair flip thing, and I liked it, and I was like, ‘Let’s keep it long for a little while, buddy,’ and he was just like, ‘OK,’” Johnson said. “That’s what he told everyone for a little while, ‘Well, Mom likes it long.’ Then we kind of went into this phase where he was like, ‘I think I’m just going to keep growing it so I can donate it.’”

Johnson said other people thought he was kidding, but he wasn’t.

“That was all him,” she said. “He came home from school one day and mentioned it, and I was like, ‘Well, OK.’”

After he recently had his hair cut, everyone was surprised when they saw Johnson’s photos of him on Facebook.

“No one knew we were doing it,” Johnson said. “It was a big thing on Facebook. Everyone was like, ‘Oh my gosh!’ because they loved his hair. All of the women were like, ‘Oh my gosh! His hair.’ It was nice to have all of the support. Everyone was really proud of him.”

Now, the third-grader said he’s letting his hair grow out again so he can donate to kids who need it.

“Are we going to let it get that long or a little bit shorter or longer?” Johnson asked her son.

“If Dad lets me get it longer, then I will,” Sample responded.

Sample just started his first year of Seymour Swish basketball, and one big change was noticed this year playing that sport.

“It will be nice to not have to put ponytails up, huh?” Johnson said to her son.

“It will be our first year without ponytails at basketball games,” she said, laughing.