NEWBERRY — Prosperity-Rikard Elementary first-grader Ava Grace Long wanted to make a difference in the life of someone else this holiday season. To do this, she donated 11 inches of her hair to Locks of Love.
Long had never had a haircut until this past January. Even then, it was simply a trim, according to Long’s mother, Dana.
“Ava Grace has always enjoyed having long hair,” said Jason, her father. “After a while, she thought if she got her hair cut, people wouldn’t recognize her.”
Dana said their family took a vacation to the beach this summer where Ava Grace noticed a child without hair.
“She asked if the child was a boy or girl and I told her she was a girl,” Dana said. “She then asked where her hair was, and I told her that more than likely she had been sick and the medicine she had to take caused her hair to fall out.”
Ava Grace’s mother and father talked with her about cancer, reminding her about Relay for Life events they attend each year.
“You could tell she was taking it all in,” Dana said.
“That’s when I started thinking about donating my hair,” Ava Grace said.
A couple weeks after returning home from vacation, Dana said Ava Grace came to them and said she wanted to give her hair to a little girl that needed it.
Ava Grace said deciding to donate her hair was an easy choice.
“I knew it would grow back,” she said. “I felt really good about it.”
Even after deciding to donate her hair to Locks of Love, Ava Grace said she wanted to wait until Christmas time to share her “gift” with someone in need.
On Dec. 6, Ava Grace donated 11 inches of hair to Locks of Love. Although she donated a lot of hair, she still has plenty left, with it still falling half way down her back. Her mother said she is finally able to do most of the maintenance of it all by herself.
“Tiffany Dawkins cut her hair and had a box of tissues waiting for me that day. I don’t know how, but I didn’t need a single one,” Dana said. “A sense of pride and peace came over me while she was getting her hair cut and I was able to enjoy it through her eyes, I guess. I knew how much it meant to her to be donating and that’s all that mattered at the time.”
Dana and Jason, along with friends and family said they are proud of her generous heart. Ava Grace said she plans to donate more of her hair next year, also around Christmas time. When asked if she’s missed her long hair, she replied “No, I wasn’t sad, and I haven’t missed it yet.”
For more information about Locks of Love and how to donate like Ava Grace, visit www.locksoflove.org.
Elyssa Parnell can be reached at 803-276-0625, ext. 108 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.