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Boy donates his hair to Locks of Love

IT’S BEEN A LONG TIME since Garrick Whitkens, 8, of Brookfield, has sat in a barber’s chair. Two and a half years, actually. Here, stylist Amanda Brown of Carroll County Choppers Hair Salon in Ossipee gives the youngster a haircut of a lifetime as he donated his long hair to Locks of Love. Larissa Mulkern. (click for larger version)

AHHH, FREE OF HAIR at last. Garrick flashes a smile for the paparazzi after his first major haircut in more than two years. Larissa Mulkern. (click for larger version)
May 06, 2009
OSSIPEE — Garrick Whitkens was only five and a half years old when he proclaimed that he wanted to grow his hair long enough to donate to Locks of Love, an organization that makes wigs for children under 18 suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis.

Two and a half years – and 14 inches of hair – later, the youngster met his hair growth goal. And on Wednesday, April 29, with proud parents Lori and David Whitkens of Brookfield watching and filming the event for his grandmother, stylist Amanda Brown of Carroll County Choppers Hair Salon in Ossipee sectioned off and braided Garrick's light brown locks and snipped, snipped, snipped.

What style did the youngster want after going without a haircut for 30 months?

"A buzz cut," he said from the barber's chair.

With the skill of a professional who has barbered cuts for Locks of Love in the past, Brown sectioned Garrick's hair off into six braided strands about 10 inches long. The hair will be literally shipped off and made into a wig for a child suffering from hair loss, whether from cancer treatments or other medical conditions such as alopecia. Carroll County Choppers donated the haircut.

Mrs. Whitkens said her son, a student at the Carpenter School, heard about a little girl named Sarah who was diagnosed with cancer when he was only five. Somehow he heard about Locks of Love and went on a mission.

"He said he wanted to grow his hair out for Locks of Love… he wanted to grow it for Sarah," said Mrs. Whitkens, who researched what the requirements were for Locks of Love. The hair must be at least 10 inches long, washed and clean, and cut off in braided sections tied with elastics.

While it's more common to hear about girls growing their hair long, those around Garrick – from family to classmates and teachers – were supportive of his mission.

"He's a really good kid," said Mrs. Whitkens. "He thinks of others all the time." Once or twice, his long locks attracted a snide comment from strangers, but once they were told he was not growing his hair to be outrageous, but for a charitable cause, they were supportive, she added.

Garrick endured the growing out period without complaint. When he played sports he just tied it back in a ponytail. But now that it was gone, really gone, how'd he feel. In a word: "Great!"

About Locks of Love

Locks of Love is a public non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children under age 18 suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis. It meets a unique need for children by using donated hair to create the highest quality hair prosthetics.

The organization's mission is to return a sense of self, confidence and normalcy to children suffering from hair loss by utilizing donated ponytails to provide the highest quality hair prosthetics to financially disadvantaged children. The children receive hair prostheses free of charge or on a sliding scale, based on financial need. For more information on the organization, go to locksoflove.org.

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